Clayton Keith Yeutter, ONZM (//; December 10, 1930 – March 4, 2017) was an American politician who served as United States Secretary of Agriculture under President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1991 before serving as Counselor to the President in 1992. He served as United States Trade Representative from 1985 to 1989 and as Chairman for the Republican National Committee from 1991 until 1992. Yeutter was employed as a Senior Advisor at the international law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C.
Yeutter was born in Eustis, Nebraska. Yeutter was a graduate of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from which he received a B.S., a J.D., and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics. Yeutter later served as Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Consumer Services from 1973 to 1974, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for International Affairs and Commodity Programs from 1974 to 1975, and Deputy Special Representative for Trade Negotiations from 1975 to 1977.
Yeutter was born in Eustis, Nebraska, on December 10, 1930, during the Nebraska Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Despite a successful career in government and politics, Yeutter expressed a continued desire to remain close to his upbringing. As Deputy Trade Representative Yeutter stated, “I once wanted to stay in Nebraska and be a successful farmer. There are days when I get a yearning to return.”
Yeutter graduated from Eustis High School in 1948. He then attended the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and was a member of FarmHouse Fraternity. In 1952 Yeutter graduated with a B.S. “With High Distinction”, the highest scholastic honor given by the University of Nebraska. He also ranked first in the College of Agriculture graduating class and was named the “Outstanding Animal Husbandry Graduate” in the United States.
Upon graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which coincided with the Korean War, Yeutter enlisted as a Basic Airman in the United States Air Force. While enlisted he earned credits under the G.I. Bill to attend graduate school. From the completion of his enlistment in 1957 until 1975 Yeutter worked as the operator of a 2,500-acre farming enterprise in central Nebraska. He also continued to serve in the active reserve until 1977.
During an overlapping six-year period beginning in January 1960, Yeutter worked as a faculty member within the Department of Agricultural Economics at his alma mater, the University of Nebraska. While working within the Department of Agricultural Economics Yeutter completed extensive graduate work. He completed one semester of graduate studies in agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1960. After entering the College of Law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Yeutter served as an editor of the Nebraska Law Review. In 1963 Yeutter graduated cum laude with a J.D. and ranked first in his graduating class. While Yeutter continued to work as a faculty member he also completed a Ph.D. in agricultural economics by 1966. While completing his J.D. and Ph.D., Yeutter taught agricultural economics and agricultural law part-time. After completing his J.D. Yeutter taught full-time from 1965 to 1966.