Bob Bergland, Ag Secretary under President Carter, dies

Began career with USDA during the Kennedy administration

Bob Bergland, Agriculture Secretary under U.S. President Jimmy Carter, has died at age 90.

Robert Selmer Bergland was born July 22, 1928, to Selmer and Mabel (Evans) Bergland in Roseau, Minnesota. He grew up on the farm just south of Roseau, attended grade and high school in Roseau, and graduated from the University of Minnesota Agriculture School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Bergland married Helen Grahn in 1950. They had seven children, daughters Dianne and Linda and sons Stevan, Jon, Allan, Bill, Frank.

Bergland began his career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1962, when he was offered a job with the USDA in Washington, D.C., working for the Kennedy administration. He was given a position in the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service and had a territory of nine states in the Midwest. He held this position until he ran for U.S. Congress in 1968.

Bergland was defeated in this run for Congress, so his family moved back to Roseau, Minnesota, where he returned to farming. In 1970, he made another run for the Minnesota’s Congressional 7th District. He was elected, moved his family back to Washington D.C., and held that position until 1977. When in the U.S. House of Representatives, Bergland served on many committees, such as the House Agriculture Committee.

In 1977, Bergland was appointed Secretary of Agriculture by President Jimmy Carter, holding that position throughout Carter’s term. As Secretary, he headed delegations to various world capitals working on trade and export promotion for U.S. agriculture. He also traveled throughout the U.S. to help communicate farm policy and promote the farm industry and a better farm economy.

From 1981-82 Bergland was President of the Farmland-Eaton World Trade. In 1984, he was chosen to be the CEO for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Bergland is survived by his wife, Helen; daughters Dianne (Stephen) Dahl and Linda (Larry) Vatnsdal; daughter-in-law Mary Bergland; sons Allan (Laura) Bergland, Bill (Jane) Bergland, and Frank (Susan) Bergland; 18 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; brother Glen (Marie) Bergland; sister-in-law Lois Bergland; brother-in-law David (Katharine) Grahn; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by two sons, Stevan and Jon; his parents; sister Betty and her husband Morris Roadfeldt; brother Phillip Bergland; and nephew Roger Roadfeldt.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 15, 2018, at 1 p.m. at Moe Lutheran Church in Roseau, Minnesota. A public visitation will be on Friday from 5-8 p.m. with an 8 p.m. prayer service at Helgeson Funeral Home in Roseau; and one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be at the Hope Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Roseau Area Community Fund, Roseau County Historical Society and Moe Lutheran Church Radio Broadcast.