What is in this article?:
- Don Butler โ Western grower to rural problem solver
- A career of giving back
- Food safety job one
- Tough decisions
- Don Butler, 88, retires after 66-year career in Western agriculture; the last decade as director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
- Butler, an Arizona rancher, counseled two U.S. presidents on agricultural issues and provided guidance to numerous state and national agricultural organizations.
A career of giving back
Butler’s professional 66-year career includes rich appreciation for his experiences, tireless dedication, and deep respect for agriculture. It has included a mix of trials and tribulations, including serving for two U.S. presidents.
Following high school, Butler enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Three years later, he enrolled at the University of Arizona and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in animal husbandry.
Butler went to work in Phoenix at the Tovrea Land and Cattle Company which at one time was the world’s largest feedlot with 30,000 cattle. Today, the land is covered by commercial development.
Butler’s resume also includes work with the Southern Arizona Bank and Trust in Tucson and the First National Bank of Arizona in Yuma. Then he worked for Producer’s Livestock in Yuma, and then was employed by the Coronado Cattle Company in Tucson; a cattle management company he later purchased.
The rancher served as president of the Arizona Cattle Feeders. On the national level, he was the chairman of the National Cattleman’s Association. In the early 1980s he served as the chairman of the U.S. Meat Export Federation Board.
“We helped open the Japanese market for U.S. beef,” Butler said.
With a growing resume of service to agriculture, President Reagan selected Butler for a two-year post on the President’s committee on trade and negotiations. President George Bush Sr. asked him to serve two additional terms and Butler agreed.
For a decade, Butler served on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange board of directors (1988-1998). The California native served with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco where he chaired the group’s agricultural advisory council.
A decade ago, Butler received a phone call from a feedlot owner about the ADA’s search for a new director. Butler was encouraged to toss his hat into the ring. The governor hired Butler.
“My greatest challenge as ADA director in the early going was bringing the agricultural industry closer together with the department,” Butler said.
Improved levels of trust and support between the two entities were needed and Butler helped bring the two closer together.