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The Journal Gazette

Monday, December 10, 2018 1:00 am

Carter's agriculture head Bob Bergland dies at 90

Associated Press

ROSEAU, Minn. – Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland, a farmer from northern Minnesota who was tasked with selling President Jimmy Carter's unpopular Soviet Union grain embargo to other farmers, died Sunday. He was 90.

Bergland died at a nursing home in his hometown of Roseau, near the U.S.-Canadian border, his daughter Linda Vatnsdal said.

As agriculture secretary, Bergland had the difficult job of defending to Midwest farmers Carter's unpopular 1980 decision to embargo grain sales to the Soviet Union after the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Walter Mondale, who was vice president when Carter was in the White House, recalled Sunday that both he and Bergland did not like the grain embargo.

“I don't think it was good policy,” Mondale told The Associated Press on Sunday. “This is going to mean Russians are going to buy their grain somewhere else. ... I urged the president not to do it. He felt he had to do it.”

Carter lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan, and Bergland's term as agriculture secretary ended with the Carter administration in 1981.