Lyng, Richard E.

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Lyng, Richard E. Gender: M
Richard Edmund Lyng
born on 29 June 1918 at 00:30 (= 12:30 AM )
Place San Francisco, California, 37n47, 122w25
Timezone PWT h7w (is war time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Wilsons
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_cancol.18.gif 06°44' s_mo.18.gif s_piscol.18.gif 09°30 Asc.s_piscol.18.gif 24°31'

Richard E. Lyng
photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, license cc-by-2.0


American business executive and government employee, named the 22nd U.S. secretary of agriculture by President Ronald Reagan in January 1986. He took over his duties of chief administrator of the government’s farm policy at a time when American farmers faced their severest test since the Depression.

Richard Edmund Lyng is the older of the two children and the only son of Edmund John and Sarah Cecilia (McGrath) Lyng. After attending public school in Modesto, California, he attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He graduated summa cum laude in 1940 with a Ph.D. Upon his return to Modesto, Lyng became a field representative for his father’s agricultural products firm, the Ed J. Lyng Company. In 1941 he entered the U.S. Army as a private and was sent to the South Pacific. He was discharged in 1945 as a second lieutenant and returned to the family business. As president of the company from 1949 to 1967, he more than doubled its earnings.

Lyng was president of the California Seed Association in 1953 and of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce in 1958. In 1966 he ran as the Republican candidate for a state senate seat, but lost to the Democratic incumbent. He never sought elected office again. About a year later, California Governor Ronald Reagan asked Lyng to serve as director of the state’s department of agriculture and he agreed.

After two successful years as the director of the largest state agriculture department, President Nixon’s secretary of agriculture, Clifford Hardin, offered Lyng the post of assistant secretary for marketing and consumer services. The Senate confirmed his appointment on 2/28/1969. Concurrently, from 1969 to 1973, Lyng served as a director on the board of the Commodity Credit Corporation, an agency within the agriculture department.

In July 1971 Lyng announced new food stamp regulations that established a national eligibility standard. A new allocation program for the school lunch program introduced in August 1971 brought immediate criticism. Lyng claimed the program would enable schools to bring many more needy children into the program, but that it depended on funding from the Congress. In October 1971, Congress voted to increase the federal reimbursement for the school lunch program by drawing on funds from the agriculture department’s import duty fund. In 1972 he faced the Senate committee on nutrition and human needs to explain why the Nixon administration would spend $400 million less than the $2.3 million allocated the previous year on the food stamp program.

In December 1972 there was a reorganization in the agriculture department and Lyng was reassigned to a less public post. He left the following year to take charge of the American Meat Institute, a powerful Washington lobbying association. During his six years as a lobbyist, he represented the interests of an industry he had once policed. When he left the American Meat Institute in 1979, he continued to serve as a part-time consultant while also working for several other organizations including the Queensland Graziers of Australia.

When his old friend Ronald Reagan entered the presidential race, Lyng served the campaign as co-director of its farm and food division. When Reagan was elected, he chose Lyng to head the transition team to examine personnel and policies for the agriculture department. Even though Lyng was Reagan’s first choice for secretary of agriculture, influential Senate majority leader Bob Dole insisted that a true mid-western farmer be named. Illinois hog-farmer John R. Block got the post and Lyng had to be satisfied with deputy secretary. He took office in January 1981.

Lyng reportedly kept a low-profile during Reagan’s first term. He was the chief spokesman for the department in the budget battles with David Stockman and the Office of Budget and Management staff. In 1983 Lyng headed a group of agriculture department officials on a "listening tour" to visit farmers across the U.S. and get their input on what should be included in the proposed 1985 farm bill. Feeling that some of the bill’s provisions were unrealistic, he sometimes differed with the president or with fellow officials.

In 1983 he underwent triple bypass heart surgery. By 1985 he decided he was ready for a slower pace. He left the agriculture department in March to establish the Washington farm consulting firm of Lyng and Lesher, Inc. As consultants, Lyng and Lesher worked with several high-profile, multi-national companies and with dairy farmers interested in influencing dairy policy in the farm bill.

On 12/18/1985 Congress passed the farm bill. Having accomplished this very important objective of his term, John Block, who was under fire for his lack of political acumen, resigned as secretary of agriculture on 1/07/1986. Lyng was considered the logical choice to succeed Block. He was viewed as more politically astute. President Reagan nominated him on 1/29/1986. This time Senator Dole endorsed him for the post. The Senate routinely confirmed Lyng’s appointment on 3/06/1986 making him, at age 67, the oldest agriculture secretary ever to take the office. He was able to fulfill his cherished ambition of serving in a cabinet position. Receiving mostly praise from the farm organizations, he continued as secretary of agriculture until 1989.

Richard Lyng and his wife, Bethyl (Ball), were married on 6/25/1944. They have two daughters, Jeanette and Marilyn and four grandchildren. Lyng is tall, broad-shouldered and silver-haired. He has been described as an urbane man more comfortable in the boardroom than on the farm. His "grandfatherly" easy manner is often compared to that of Ronald Reagan. He is a Roman Catholic, a Rotarian and a member of the Washington Golf and Country Club and other clubs. David Senter, president of the American Agriculture Movement, has described Lyng as "tough as an alligator" under his deceptively easy-going exterior. Carol Tucker Foreman, a Carter administration official said that despite disagreements, he was "basically a good guy."

Lyng died from complications arising from Parkinson's Disease in Modesto, California, on 1 February 2003.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • Work : New Job 1973 (President of American Meat Institute six years)
  • Work : New Job January 1986 (Secretary of Agriculture)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death by Disease 1 February 2003 in Modesto (Parkinson's Disease, age 84)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

B.C. in hand from the Wilsons


  • Traits : Mind : Education extensive (Ph.D.)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage more than 15 Yrs (From 1944)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (One)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (Two daughters)
  • Vocation : Military : Military service (WW II)
  • Vocation : Politics : Public office (Secretary of Agriculture)