Throughout his very successful career Dan Amstutz represented and championed ideas and goals
of NAEGA membership . As we reflect on the life of our friend and associate this tribute is intended to
provide an opportunity to express thoughts in a memorial to Dan's contribution to our industry, country and mankind.
Please contribute (email) to this tribute with your comments, public documents and recommendations for the Amstutz Award.
||The Amstutz Award is given by the North American Export Grain Association in honor of Dan Amstutz and in recognition of his outstanding and extraordinary service to the export grain and oilseed trade from the United States. Appropriately, the first recipient of this distinguished service award was Mr. Amstutz.
Learn more about the Amstutz award
Eulogy by Joe O'Mara
Testimonials (expand sections with + icon)
News stories and public documents
| Dawn Forsythe, U.S. Wheat Associates
I didn't know Dan well. But when I joined U.S. Wheat Associates as communications director, I was a neophyte in the world of wheat, never suspecting for a moment how complex it really was. Dan was always most patient in answering stupid questions, giving me gentle guidance and sharing his very practical insights. He was a gracious and generous man.
| Gary Blumenthal
I first worked closely with Dan Amstutz during the 1985 farm bill. As a legislative aide I dutifully carried the Under Secretary’s briefing book as we attended countless meetings or hearings on Capitol Hill to discuss the impending legislation. He rarely needed anything out of the briefing book I worked diligently to compile but he did share with me the frustration he felt in trying to explain market-based policy imperatives in the highly politicized environment of Capitol Hill! Later I found myself serving as his confidant in the late hours of the evening as he tried to better understand the bubbling of thoughts and concerns that occurred within the agencies he managed. Higher level managers were obligated to make more sterile presentations to the Under Secretary but Dan seemed to appreciate knowing more intimately what his subordinates were really thinking and worried about.
I saw him countless times over more than 20 years. Because of his immense intelligence, I always felt benefited by his presence. His importance to me as both an industry icon and as a friend struck me most deeply when we appeared together in February of this year on a panel about Iraq. While I focused and worried about his health condition, he made it clear to the organizers that he would not miss the opportunity to share his wisdom and experience on how to solve the problems in Iraqi agriculture. Dan had such immense abilities that he did not have to come to Washington over 20 years ago; he did not have to do the mental struggle with politicians and bureaucracy, and he certainly did not have to incur the physical struggle that was obvious at this past February’s conference on Iraq. But Dan had something to give and the result is that we have all benefited from his many sacrifices to public service.
| Charlene Stewart, former secretary to Daniel G. Amstutz
Through this message, I offer sincere condolences to the Amstutz family and to all who have lost a dear friend, confidant, supporter, neighbor, and source of encouragement. Dan Amstutz left us too soon, and he will truly be missed - for his leadership in the agricultural field as well as for his philanthropy to many who benefited from his helpful encouragement and generous support.
The Reagan Administration was fortunate to have the talents of such an outstanding leader at USDA as Under Secretary Daniel G. Amstutz, who was proud to serve President Ronald Reagan, a leader he respected and revered. Dan Amstutz had a great love for freedom and democracy, and was an extremely patriotic person.
Dan Amstutz was a person who loved life, was curious and interested in almost everything under the sun, and appreciated literature, the arts, music of all kinds, and excellent cuisine. He also loved to laugh, and I can remember hearing laughter coming from staff meetings during his USDA years, as the group broke up after sharing private jokes!
Dan Amstutz not only loved life himself, but sought to help others with problems. In his 2005 Christmas message, he shared his latest interest and concern: "I have learned much about the difficulties faced by people with handicaps and am becoming a vocal proponent of their needs." It sounds just like Dan Amstutz, to be thinking of how to help others even as he was experiencing pain and lack of mobility. May his legacy of caring and generosity live on through efforts of others concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of others around the world. We were fortunate to have known Dan Amstutz, and will hold his memory in our hearts
| Bob Kohlmeyer, WPI
I would be remiss and WPI would be remiss if we did not note the passing of Dan Amstutz, who succumbed to cancer 20 Mar after experiencing health problems for a few years prior. Dan was one of the most widely known individuals involved in agriculture for the last few decades and deservedly so. His experience in agribusiness, high level government posts and non-profit organizations made him unique.
I will not bother with a detailed description of his career. Anyone interested can pull up his obituary. I will only note briefly that he spent 25 years with Cargill Inc in various roles followed by 5 years with Goldman Sachs as a general partner. In 1983 Pres Reagan appointed him Under Secretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs. In 1987 he was named Ambassador and Chief US Negotiator for agriculture during the Uruguay Round. Thereafter, he headed the International Grains Council (IWC) in London and subsequently the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) in Washington, DC. As someone formerly employed by agribusinesses, while in government Dan was a frequent target for criticism from those that believe such experience somehow disqualifies one for a government position related to agriculture.
In 2003 Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman appointed Dan to lead the efforts to rebuild Iraq’s agricultural productive capacity and infrastructure. His role in Iraqi agriculture drew especially harsh “knee jerk” criticism from Oxfam and other similar groups that were convinced Dan would insure that multinational agribusinesses would be the beneficiaries of Iraqi agricultural recovery. Anyone who knew Dan also knew of his high integrity and how scrupulously he kept all former commercial allegiances totally separate from his public service. Such unfounded charges made those organizations appear even sillier than usual.
Several years ago the CFTC pressured the CBOT to change futures contract delivery terms to something other than instore Chicago and Toledo elevators. The CBOT asked Dan to help design a new delivery structure. The Chicago-St. Louis inland waterway delivery system now in place was largely Dan’s concept.
Dan and I entered Cargill’s training program on the same day in July 1954. We roomed together for awhile. For years our career assignments seemed to thrust us together one way or another, and we became good friends. I am proud of Dan’s career and his contributions in public service. Dan’s passing is a personal loss for me as well as a tremendous loss for all of agriculture. May he rest peacefully!
| Richard Petges
USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service
Undersecretary Amstutz led our agricultural delegation for the opening session of the United States/Canada Free Trade Agreement negotiations in the late 1980s. I was fortunate to be a member of the agricultural delegation for this first meeting, which took place in a secluded ski resort area in Canada. Of course our meeting occurred in the summer, so with the exception of our respective delegations, the resort was deserted.
Agriculture was one of the first issues to be discussed in the plenary meeting. With the afternoon dedicated to non-agricultural issues, Undersecretary Amstutz decided to check-out the surrounding agricultural area. As the junior member of our delegation, I had been designated as the driver. So, in an unexpected twist, I ended up spending the afternoon one-on-one with Undersecretary Amstutz.
At the time, I could only think about what a great opportunity this was for me to pick the brain of someone I considered to be very intelligent, while trying not to make myself look stupid. Far be it for me to say so, but Undersecretary Amstutz’s abundance of intelligence definitely met my high expectations, while at the same time he was very open to my questions and facilitated our conversion, knowing full well that I was the benefactor. I was duly impressed and could not help but to think about how much some people would have paid to spend the afternoon discussing various issues with Dan Amstutz.
As the years passed, Dan and I stayed in touch and became colleagues and friends. I will always be thankful for having had the opportunity to know him and will miss our discussions.
| Daniel R. Pearson,
U.S. International Trade Commission
Although I've known Dan since 1982, the special memory I'd like to share
comes from just a few years ago when Dan and I served together on the
Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC), which is a private-sector
group of about 30 people who provide policy advice on trade issues to
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Trade
Representative (USTR). At that point Dan had retired from NAEGA and
become a consultant and I was still living in Minnesota and working for
Cargill. This particular APAC meeting was held sometime in the autumn.
Ohio State University and the University of Minnesota had just played
their annual football game the previous Saturday. Most APAC members
were aware of Dan's great affection for Ohio State. I don't recall
which issue was being discussed, but Dan offered a comment with which I
did not completely agree. (Yes, that did happen occasionally.) I made
a good-natured remark to the effect that we needed to expect Dan to be a
little cranky because Ohio State had just lost to Minnesota in Columbus
for the first time in (if memory serves me correctly) 48 years. Dan
turned to me and said more or less the following: "Yes, it has been a
long time, but I remember that previous game well. My father took me to
That response surprised me, of course, and we visited about it
afterward. It helped me better understand his long and ardent support
for his alma mater. In a deeper sense, though, it also gave me a
clearer perspective into the passion, dedication and personal touch Dan
brought to the other things that were important in his life: the
pursuit of open and competitive markets; the search for policies that
would encourage economic growth by allowing individuals and nations to
reach their full potential; and his family. He mentioned his mother,
sister, niece and nephews often enough so it was obvious they were very
dear to him.
The world has lost a man whose knowledge, wisdom and friendship will be
greatly missed by me and by many others.
| Kendell Keith, President National Grain and Feed Association
I met Dan Amstutz for the first time in 1980. He chaired the National Grain and Feed Association's Commodity Exchange Committee for a number of years and served on both the NGFA's Board and Executive Committee. In his service on NGFA committees, Dan taught me a great deal about futures markets, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and government relations work. Dan had a tremendous appreciation and passion for free markets. His vast understanding of markets and agriculture were exemplified by his ability to explain complex matters in straightforward concise terms that anyone could understand. He could write policy statements and letters just as he spoke----with great precision, skill and to the point.
In his service to the industry and with his roles in government, no one conducted business with higher integrity that Dan Amstutz. His knowledge of the business contributed strongly to his performance at USDA. I still remember Dan investing so much time in re-designing the export enhancement program (a grain export subsidy program) to make it more cost-effective and to add more bushels to U.S. export volumes. It was a painful exercise for Dan, as he found such non-market programs distasteful, but he tackled the job because he knew he could improve its performance. And he did.
I'll admit that Dan and I didn't always agree 100% of the time, and during his tenure as the NAEGA CEO there were times that he and I would end a conversation saying, "well, we will just have to agree that we're not going to reach agreement on this one!" But Dan never let such disagreements get in the way of dealing cooperatively on the next item on the industry's agenda.
I don't think there is anyone I have known in agribusiness that was more widely revered and respected for his knowledge, business acumen and capacity to contribute than Dan Amstutz. He will be missed by many.
| Tim Frump, ADM
As we pass through life we seek people that we consider to be role models. Those individuals that possess the
skills, abilities and traits that we want to model our lives after. Those individuals that have the ability to handle
and manage challenges with wisdom and courage. Dan Amstutz was a role model that many individuals
have been blessed with knowing. Dan was generous in his ability to share his knowledge, wisdom and
passion for our industry. We are all truly blessed to have had Dan in our lives and in our industry.
| Mary Ann and Everett MacLennan
Cargill, Inc. 1955-1997
I first met Dan in March of 1955 at the Cargill Lake Office where I was going through a series of job interviews prior to graduating from Amherst College. It happened that we were both members of Chi Phi Fraternity. It was the beginning of a life-long career at Cargill for me.
Dan and I went our separate ways in the early years until we ended up on different grain desks at the Lake Office in 1968. The two of us, Flint Harding, Mel Middents, and Bob Hatch shared the west end of the office. We had many laughs and good times there for four years until Dan left to start CIS, and I went to Toledo in 1972. He would come over for dinner on Friday nights to a house full of children, and we would tell stories and reorganize the senior management of Cargill on a regular basis.
He visited us in Toledo from Chicago on consecutive Thanksgivings in 1972 and 1973. We attended two Ohio State - Michigan football games together, and his love and enjoyment of anything to do with Ohio State was obvious. We still remember the air of excitement - almost electricity - when we walked into the stadium at Columbus and crammed three of us into two seats to accommodate a "shortage" of tickets at the event.
We somewhat lost contact with Dan when he left CIS for Goldman Sachs and then the Government, but happily we "found" each other again in the 90's. Both of us retired from formal business attachments and had the time to travel and enjoy life. We met in Florida, and Dan came to Minneapolis and became a member of the Cargill 25-Year Club. Then, along with Flint and Janet Harding, we spent a long weekend at his beautiful log house in Park City, Utah last summer. It was a happy time, full of story telling about the old days at Cargill and featuring huge breakfasts prepared by our host.
The five of us made plans to have similar "reunions" in the future, but they never happened, as Dan's back surgery and then untimely death cut short our happy times together on this earth.
We remember and loved Dan for his wit and self-deprecating humor. Mary Ann once accused him of loving his own jokes, and he readily admitted that this was true. We admired his long public service, his knowledge of agriculture and government. Being with him was a true pleasure. We loved him, and were saddened by his death. Our condolences go to his mother and his sister and her family. We miss him
| Paul R. (Russ) Daly,
Angel Fire, MN
The April 22, 2006 Memorial Celebration of the life of Daniel Amstutz will certainly bring out highlights of his long and successful career. It is an admirable record, though anyone who knew Dan recognized his talents and drive and were not surprised with his impressive achievements.
We'd like to remember other features of Dan's life. Knowing him since the early 1960's Cargill days allowed us to witness some of his traits. He was very loving of family and most loyal to friends. Many of us remember him by his smile and sincerity. He seldom forgot a name nor often even that of a persons spouse or family member.
Dan encouraged and defended young newcomers to business. There is a beautiful story of his walking out in protest to a manager demeaning trainees assigned to his office. This and other happenings became humorous and lore with decades later telling.
Dan's sense of humor and his ability to relate to all ages and to people from all walks in life were unique. Our condolences to this good man's family, as well as comfort to them in knowing he led a good and contributory life.
| Ricardo (Ric) J. Robles
President (Ret), Pan American Department, Cargill Inc
Dan Amstutz has left a unique legacy and one that will make far-reaching global contributions. The breath of his impact on so many fields of critical importance to this country is impressive. His Curriculum Vitae speaks for itself. When I was getting started in developing trade in Latin America for Cargill in the decade of the 60s, Dan was one of the top executives in the Wheat department. His help and guidance in building up that new trading area for Cargill was the result of vision, global approach, people skills, and total understanding of Agriculture in general and Commodity trading in particular. I shall always remember him for his statesmanship and for his willingness to share his knowledge and guidance. And, in no small measure, for his always present sense of humor. My condolences to his family.
| Barney Saunders
My friendship with Dan goes back to 1958 when we met in Hamburg where he was the office manager and I was a visitor. We had a great time together and became fast friends. Later when he moved to Minneapolis we asked him to research the possibility of Cargill's entrance into the commodity brokerage business. He did a fabulous job and we were able to convince top management to enter the business. Naturally, we chose Dan to run the new commodity brokerage company. He did such a great job that it wasn't long before he was hired away by Goldman Sachs. Our friendship, however, continued through his tenure at Goldman and his several other positions afterwards. I saw him last summer when he came out to Minneapolis to see my wife's art show.
Dan was truly one in a million. He was very bright, very hardworking, and possessed a wonderful sense of humor. I only knew of one fault, which we all learned to live with and that was that Dan hated to get up in the morning and as a result would often be late to work. It was a standing joke, but it was Dan. We all loved him and I will miss him.
| David Bere
I worked for Mr.Amstutz as a White House Fellow in 1983-1984 when he served as Under Secretary of Agriculture. He was a great mentor and teacher. He was gracious enough to correspond with me on occasion over the last twenty years. He was an honorable and talented man who gave much to our country. He will be missed.
| Howard S. Marks
I first met Dan in the mid-80's, when I was working as an agricultural
aide for former Sen. Charles H. Percy (R-IL). Sen. Percy wanted to
torque his powerful position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee to open up export markets for Illinois farmers and processors.
Dan was extraordinarily helpful in marshaling his many friends in the
Reagan Administration to help us successfully combat European
agricultural trade barriers and extend the Long Term Agricultural
Agreement with the former Soviet Union.
Following Sen. Percy's defeat in
1984, he offered me the position of Associate Administrator of the
Office of International Cooperation and Development (OICD), one of the
three agencies under his direct supervision. I was stunned, as I was
certain there were others better qualified for this demanding job. Our
office (subsequently merged with the Foreign Agricultural Service)
managed all of the USDA's international scientific and technical
exchanges, the training of foreign agriculturalists, bilateral research,
and representation before the international food agencies. I was
immediately struck after taking the job how much he cared deeply for the
needs of the less developed countries who were unable to feed their own
Time and again, he made time for OICD Administrator Dr. Joan
Wallace and myself to initiate policies and actions to ensure that the
desperate needs of the Third World countries were effectively
addressed. As a very private man, he never shared with me his
motivation in trying to help the poor in Africa, Asia or Latin America.
His actions, in this case, were far more meaningful that any artfully
constructed speech. The world will miss Dan Amstutz. May his memory be
a blessing and inspiration to others.
| Kenneth L. Bader, Former CEO, American Soybean Association
I was the former CEO during the time he served in the USDA. He was a superb confidant and advisor to me and the Soybean Association during his tenure there. It didn't hurt any that we had been contemporaries at Ohio State either. Numerous times, he told me what the bottom line was relative to our lobbying efforts with the Department. In his own reassuring way, he talked to the farmers about international trade and policy. I truly admired him as did my staff and the farmer leaders. We talked numerous times since our retirements from active public life. I will miss him greatly.
| Paul B. Green, International Trade Consultant
Thoughtful. Inspirational. Powerful. I tried all those words on but none of them quite describe Dan or his impact on the world of US agriculture, particularly the grain industry. I know he also made an impact on me, as I never left his presence without having learned something.
My first contacts with Dan were when he was appointed to be Undersecretary of Agriculture by President Reagan. I was later told that whenever Dan was designated to attend a cabinet meeting on behalf of the Secretary, the USDA for the first time, became full-fledged participants in economic discussions. No one from Treasury, Federal Reserve or USTR could match his experience in macroeconomics, fiscal policy or trade issues. His matchless intellect gave new respect to the agriculture community.
My relationship with him grew through his various roles as Ambassador for Aid and Trade as well as President of NAEGA. With each role, I learned more and our relationship became warmer and warmer. He began to know my wife and children and asked about them regularly. Though he was a private man, he shared his passion for wildlife, Ohio State and his many homes. Role models that maintain their stature are rare in Washington, DC, and so Dan is an inspiration.
God's Peace, Paul B. Green
| W. Kirk Miller, General Sales Manager, FAS USDA
It was truly an honor and pleasure for me to have the opportunity to work with fellow Buckeye Dan Amstutz. Make no mistake about it, Dan was certainly a tough task master and firm in his convictions and never hesitated to try to impose those convictions on anybody he encountered, but that was one of the attributes that made Dan so special. He was passionate about his work, political beliefs and personal and cultural interests. No one I have ever worked with was more dedicated to the causes he supported. Many of us in the agricultural community are quite familiar with Dan's accomplishments in agribusiness and government policy, but know less about Dan's accomplishments outside of the everyday worklife. During the five years that I worked for Dan, I saw him lead the very successful fund raising campaign for The Ohio State University Development Foundation; provided so much funding for the library in the new OSU alumni house that it is named in honor of his family; and served as executive producer of professional audio recordings, and designed and decorated at least two of his residences. Shortly after Dan retired from NAEGA, he established a chair at The Ohio State University in cross cultural understanding aimed at bridging the gap between Middle East/Islamic beliefs and those of the Judeao/Christian West.
I will best remember Dan for the dedication and love that he had for his mother and other family. He called his mother religiously every day and I can still hear him say in that deep voice, "what are you going to have for dinner tonight." In the summers Dan organized and treated his extended family to exotic vacations. Dan may have left us with people still to be fed in Iraq and a whole bunch of other places: philosophical, political and economic policy battles; and elections to be won and lost; and many great friends and colleagues to support and nurture; but he didn't leave us with a shortage of fond memories of how hard work, self discipline, frugality, and dedication made this gentle giant a great and humble servant and someone we were proud to call a friend. I am convinced that Dan and Woody Hayes are sitting in a coffee shop right now plotting and sharing advice with Jim Tressel on how the Buckeyes are going to beat Michigan next year! Go Bucks! Thanks Dan!
| International Grains Council Secretariat, London England
It was with great sadness that we learnt Dan Amstutz had passed away. As Executive Director of the International Grains Council (1992-1995) Dan Amstutz provided the dynamic leadership required to introduce some important management reforms and to help place the IGC on a more secure financial footing. His enormous skills and impressive record both in the global grains industry and in government proved valuable in dealing with complex international grain and food aid issues. During his tenure in London, Dan Amstutz played a key role in steering the renegotiation of the Wheat Trade Convention (with the WTC becoming the Grains Trade Convention) and the Food Aid Convention. He will be remembered by all those who knew him as an extraordinarily talented individual, greatly respected by IGC members and staff. We extend our sincere condolences to his family.
| Bryant H. Wadsworth
It was my privilege and, frankly, a great blessing to serve at USDA with Dan for about three years. At the time he was Under Secretary for International Affairs and Commodity Programs and I was Assistant Administrator for Trade Policy at the Foreign Agricultural Service. I think we traveled together to Tokyo from Washington, D.C., nine times in a 10-month period while negotiating with the Japanese on forest products. We also went a few other times for what were then called Sub-Cabinet Meetings with Japanese counterparts.
I took the opportunity on those trips to pick Dan's brain about several things related to the world of agriculture. I remember once asking him if he had any rules he followed strictly when he was trading in grains in his earlier life. I was very amused when he said that rule number one was, "Never believe a Government report."
Dan was a quiet and rather private man, but he was thoughtful and kind, unless roused up. He could get pretty firm in those negotiating sessions. I remember him saying in a very stern voice to his Japanese counterpart in one of those session, "My mother didn't have any stupid children!" I speak Japanese, but on that one I watched carefully to see how the professional interpreter interpreted that sentence. Not surprisingly, he was not really able to convey the meaning. Nevertheless, the Japanese team knew that they had hit a raw nerve and they began to become a little more conciliatory.
A few months ago I talked with Dan and invited him out to Utah to see our business and what we are doing. He told me he owned a home in Park City, Utah and was planning to come out after Christmas. Unfortunately he never got well enough to make the trip. I'll miss him. He was a very wise man.
The employees of ACDI/VOCA would like to extend their sincere sympathies to
NAEGA and to Gary Martin on the loss of Dan Amstutz. We know that the
leadership that he gave to NAEGA will live on in the organization for many
years to come and we share your sadness that such a vital leader is gone.
Dan Amstutz truly understood the role of development in creating markets for
U.S. exports and helped to make the world a little smaller through his
contributions to international agriculture.
| Gary C. Martin, President and CEO, North American Export Grain Association
Needless to say, Dan's contribution to our industry was unprecedented in positive impact. More importantly we have lost a great friend, statesman and gentleman.
| Mary Chambliss
I was fortunate to work with Dan when he came to USDA as our Under Secretary
and I came to
appreciate his intelligence but especially his kindness. Dan had that
wonderful ability to explain
what was needed and then to trust staff to get it done. I can recall
several examples but the
one that I want to share relates to one of the all too often food shortages
in Africa. In east
Africa the situation was growing worse and Dan called me over to his office
and said to do whatever
was needed to work with AID to help in any way and he would support whatever
I did. Knowing
that he meant it, I worked closely with the good people in Food for Peace
and we did manage
to get food approved and delivered and, I know, save lives.
For his work in
this I recall that the
Secretary of State recognized Dan who sent me to the ceremony to receive the
award. I don't
think Dan realized that Secretary Schultz would make the presentation but I
went on a very
snowy day and brought back to Dan the award, which he so richly deserved for
But most of all I remember how supportive Dan was to me when my husband
became ill in
1987. It was a very hard time and Dan time and time again offered to help
in any way he could.
He will never know how much that meant to me and how it helped during that
I was lucky enough to have our paths continue to cross over the years
including his sojourn to
Iraq. The agricultural community has lost one of its best and, Dan, many of
us will greatly miss you.
| Barry F. Schechtman,
Former NAEGA Chairman
If you were lucky enough to have met Dan Amstutz your life will forever be better for it. You could not find a more compassionate, dedicated, intelligent, captivating, influential and revered individual. Dan was a true statesman. NAEGA will always be thankful for his leadership and the industry for his passion. I am proud to have been one of those individuals who had the privilege of knowing and working with Dan.
The amazing career of Daniel Amstutz - Milling & Baking News - April 25, 2006
Dan Amstutz Remembered - May 12, 2006
Milling and Baking News article - February 24, 2006
Obituaries and Memorial / Donation
Obituary - Published in Florida Today, Melbourne , FL, on 3/28/2006
Obituary - Published in The Washington Post, on 4/9/2006
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