Bob Bergland has touched numerous lives with his contributions to cooperatives throughout his lifetime. Bergland served as vice president and general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association for ten years, where he was an exceptional leader and consistently displayed his commitment to the cooperative movement in everything he did. He also used his extraordinary leadership abilities to rally rural Americans and cooperative leaders to defeat legislative initiatives in the 1980s that threatened the rural electric program.
Bergland has long been a powerful force and an eloquent voice for cooperatives. He was elected to Congress in 1970 and became chairman of the subcommittee on Conservation, Credit and Rural Development. Here he quickly established himself as a progressive supporter of cooperatives, and effectively educated his colleagues about the key roles of cooperatives in rural U.S. communities. Considered a national spokesman for rural America, Bergland was selected by President Jimmy Carter to be Secretary of Agriculture in 1977. As Secretary, he again stressed the need for rural development programs via cooperatives.
Bergland has devoted his life to building cooperatives and promoting the cooperative philosophy. He has been a patron, local leader, national leader and spokesman, teacher, and political philosopher -- all in the interest of improving peoples' lives and the fabric of their communities through cooperative enterprises.