Edwin A. (Ed) Jaenke, former governor of the Farm Credit Administration, died Tuesday of complications of lung cancer at the Windsor Meade Retirement Community in Williamsburg, Va. He was 89.
In 1957, Jaenke was named agricultural economist on the staff of Sen. Stuart Symington, D-Mo., and was assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee staff during an investigation of USDA’s handling of farmer-elected county committees during the Eisenhower administration.
In the 1960 presidential campaign, he directed farm organization relations for the Farmers for Kennedy-Johnson committee. The following year, he was appointed associate administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS), predecessor of the Farm Service Agency, and vice president of the Commodity Credit Corporation.
He became FCA governor in 1969, at age 38 the youngest person to hold the office. He led efforts to expand the authority of the cooperative Farm Credit System to meet changing demands of modern agriculture and rural residents. At his urging, the Federal Farm Credit Board created a Commission on Agricultural Credit, which proposed several new areas for FCS financing, including rural housing and economic development rural utilities. His ideas were adopted by Congress in the Farm Credit Act of 1971 and later amendments.
“No man made a greater impact upon Farm Credit in such a short time as did E.A. (Ed) Jaenke, FCA governor from 1969 to 1974,” wrote the late Ben Sunbury in “The Fall of the Farm Credit Empire” in 1990. “He made a valiant attempt to modernize and consolidate the System and succeeded in gaining the passage of the Farm Credit Act of 1971, a new charter act.”
After his tenure at FCA in 1974, he launched E.A. Jaenke & Associates, a Washington-based international food and agriculture consulting firm, serving major U.S. food and export companies and food agencies in Japan, Australia, and South America. His clients included Land O’Lakes and the now-defunct Farmland Industries. He was instrumental in the creation and privatization of the National Cooperative Bank, which finances consumer cooperatives. He was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 1986.
In the 1980s, he retired to a 400-acre farm in Madison County, Va., which he built into a successful beef cattle operation. In 2008, he and his late wife Claire retired to Williamsburg and spent winters in Naples, Fla. Claire died in 2011 after an automobile accident.
Jaenke was born Sept. 14, 1930, in St. Louis, Mo., and grew up in Dupo, Ill., where his father was an elementary school principal. He earned an associate degree at Blackburn College, Carlinville, Ill., a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in agricultural economics and international trade at the University of Missouri. He served in the U.S. Navy between his degree programs and has been a delegate to international conferences.
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