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CAPTION ONLY: STRONG-MINDED U.S. LEADER

SHARE CAPTION ONLY: STRONG-MINDED U.S. LEADER

Few people make the cover of any national news magazine; even fewer make all three. Yet then-Elder Ezra Taft Benson was featured on the covers of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report because of his often-controversial, strong-minded stands on agriculture issues during his term as U.S. secretary of agriculture. It was a highly powerful political post, which President Benson later referred to as "the hot seat." After he was sworn in on Jan. 21, 1953, Secretary Benson began devoting the next eight years of his life to reversing the agriculture policies of the previous administration. His determined opposition to government price supports for farmers aroused the ire of congressional leaders from large farming states, and their opposition continued throughout his administration. One of his first moves was to cut the Agriculture Department's budget by 10 percent. He then angered cattlemen by removing compulsory government grading and price controls on meat. Nevertheless, Secretary Benson was the subject of several favorable newspaper articles and radio and television programs, as well as the articles in the three major news magazines. His popularity waned as farmers faced difficult times, and his philosophies remained unpopular through most of the next eight years. Before his arrival in Washington, Elder Benson visited five areas to solicit the views of farm leaders.