Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Mississippi 2nd District Congressman
Mike Espy is the former Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, and a former U.S. Representative from the 2nd District of Mississippi. He currently works as a private sector attorney, counselor, and agricultural advisor, having his own law and consulting firms: Mike Espy, PLLC, and AE Agritrade, Inc. He focuses his legal practice…
Mike Espy is the former Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, and a former U.S. Representative from the 2nd District of Mississippi. He currently works as a private sector attorney, counselor, and agricultural advisor, having his own law and consulting firms: Mike Espy, PLLC, and AE Agritrade, Inc.
He focuses his legal practice in the areas of government relations, public finance, agribusiness transactions, commercial law, international law, and mass tort litigation. His consulting practice includes advising agribusiness companies, food charities, and government entities on a wide range of agricultural and business concerns.
Mr. Espy also keeps busy as a speaker and lecturer, and is frequently asked to comment on current political, economic, legal and social topics. He has appeared on Nightline, the ABC Nightly News, the Today Show, and various other television news programs. He has also been featured in a host of national magazines and periodicals.
As the 25th Secretary of Agriculture, Mike is credited with reorganizing the $65 billion agency, negotiating multilateral treaties for the trade of American agricultural commodities, and instituting reforms in the national food inspection system to eradicate food borne illnesses. He also brought new emphasis to the important nutrition and anti-hunger programs at the USDA, and distinguished himself as an expert in rural business, economic development, and infrastructure policy.
During his tenure at USDA, the Uruguay Round of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) was completed, and the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was signed. He made a significant contribution to the passage of both of these landmark treaties by personally negotiating bi-lateral agricultural access agreements with country ministers from throughout the world.
In his capacity as an agricultural consultant and trade attorney, Mike has traveled widely across the globe. Since his days in the President’s Cabinet, Heads of State and government ministers in Africa, Haiti, China, Korea and Brazil have utilized his talents. He has evaluated projects in Cuba, Nigeria, and Cameroon, and currently serves as the principal consultant for an international charity with outreach missions in 54 countries. He also serves as the investment advisor for public-private projects in Africa and is responsible for locating global investors in these projects.
Prior to his appointment as USDA Secretary, Mike Espy served for seven years as a Member of Congress, becoming the first African-American Member of that body from the State of Mississippi since the Reconstruction-era. While there, he served his bi-racial district as a member of the Budget and Agriculture Committees.
While on the Agriculture Committee, he served on the panels which provided supervision to the USDA, and which also regulated the federal cotton, rice, and sugar commodity programs. During his three terms as a member of the committee, he also became an expert on aquaculture, export trade, and farm credit. In addition to agricultural matters, he also focused in the Congress on the broader issues of welfare reform, self-empowerment legislation, and the creation of community development banks.
Mike Espy also authored a bill that was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, called “The Lower Mississippi Delta Development Act.” This law serves today as a percursor for a multitude of federal grants focusing upon the improvement of economic life within the Mississippi Delta. While in Congress, he also served as national Vice-Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and as a member of the Democratic Caucus’ whips organization.
Before his election to Congress in 1996, Mike worked as a trial lawyer and served as Assistant Attorney General and Director of the Mississippi Office of Consumer Protection. In 1980, he was appointed as an Assistant Secretary of State and served as Director of the Office of Public Lands.
Mike Espy was born on November 30, 1953 in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Jean and Henry Espy, who owned a chain of funeral homes throughout the state. He is also the grandson of T.J. Huddleston, Sr., who is famous for having built the first black hospital in the State of Mississippi, and who is also proudly remembered as the founder of the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Grand Lodge.
In 1975, Mike received his BA degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and went on to receive his law degree from the University of Santa Clara at Santa Clara, California in 1978. Mr. Espy holds numerous honorary degrees, citations, and awards.
Secretary Espy is a member of the Mississippi, Magnolia and American Bar Associations. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Toxin Alert, Inc., a Toronto based, publically traded biotechnology company; as a board member of the Farm Foundation, Inc., a national agricultural “think tank; and as an advisor to a regional venture capital fund.
He is also associated with numerous community, fraternal, charitable and economic development groups such as the Enterprise Corporation of the Delta (ECD), the Afro-American Sons and Daughters Hospital Foundation, the Hope Community Credit Union, the Masons, 100 Black Men of Jackson, Inc., and Feed the Children International Ministries. He is also a member of the New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi.
Mike Espy is married to the former Portia Denise Ballard of Franklington, Louisiana, and is the father of three children: Jamilla Morgan, Michael William, and Ian Michael Espy. During his spare time, he reads books, rides horses, and practices martial arts, as he holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
A Conversation With Mike Espy
Mike Espy speaking at the Federation/LAF 50th Anniversary
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