From 1933 to 1939 he was executive secretary of the Idaho Co-operative Council, helping to make Idaho potatoes among the most famous in America.After further study at Berkeley in 1937-38 he was appointed executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Co-operatives, a powerful organisation of 4,500 small-to-medium-sized producers including the California Fruit Growers Exchange, owners of the 'Sunkist' label.Ezra Taft Benson, agronomist and church leader: born Whitney, Idaho 4 August 1899; US Secretary of Agriculture 1953-61; President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1985-94; married 1927 Flora Amussen (died 1992; six children); died Salt Lake City .
His move into national life coincided with his rise up the ladder of the Mormon church.
In 1940 he became first president of the newly created Washington State (a position roughly corresponding to that of a bishop); in 1943, aged 44, he was appointed the youngest of the Twelve Apostles who head the Mormon hierarchy.
Benson was born in Whitney, Idaho, in 1899, the eldest of 11 children.
He came from tough pioneering stock: his great-grandfather and namesake led one of the companies that followed Brigham Young, the successor to the church's martyred founder, Joseph Smith, in the famous Mormon hegira across the great plains and through the Rocky Mountains to Utah in 1847.
This ensured that, provided he lived long enough, he would eventually become Joseph Smith's successor as 'Prophet, Seer and Revelator' and President of the only true 'restored' church of Christ.
After graduating from Brigham Young University in 1926, Benson continued his studies at Iowa State College in Ames, where he received his masters degree.
He returned to farm in Idaho, acting also as a part-time marketing specialist at the University of Idaho College of Agriculture.
While his ancestry automatically entitled him to a leading place in the Mormon hierarchy, his family was poor.
After missing some years of elementary school because he was needed on the family farm, he attended the Utah State Agricultural College in Logan. In line with Mormon convention, they postponed marriage until after he had completed two years as a missionary, most of which he spent in Newcastle upon Tyne (1921-23).