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Biography

Nick at his farm in Addison Nick Smith was on born November 5, 1934 in Addison, Michigan and still makes his home on the fifth generation family farm.   He and Bonnie operate a 2000 acre cash crop farm. He earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University in 1957 where he graduated with honors and later went on to earn a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Delaware in 1959.  He served his country as a Squadron Commander in the Civil Air Patrol and then as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Air Force before coming back home to the 200 acre family farm in 1962.  He served as Somerset Township Constable, Trustee, and Supervisor, and then later as a Commisioner on the Hillsdale County Board.

During the 1960s Nick was active in Farm Bureau, elected to the State Board, and Director of the F.B Insurance Company.  In 1969, Nick was appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture as Michigan Chairman of the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service and, a year later, as a Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at USDA in Washington.  During the Arab oil embargo of 1972-1974, he took on additional duty as the National Energy Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and as a member of the Working Group of the Presidential Oil Policy Committee.

Nick returned to the farm in 1975 to serve as the Commissioner of the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In 1978, Nick was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives where he served four years before being elected to three terms in the Michigan State Senate.  He was elected President Pro Tempore from 1984-1992.   Nick served as Chairman of the Taxation Committee and the Agriculture Committee and also served on the Appropriations Committee.  Nick's bills included: The Right to Farm Act, legislation that did away with the Michigan Inheritance Tax, income tax rebates for property taxes paid, and strengthening K-12 education.

In 1992, the people of Michigan's 7th Congressional District, which included Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Hillsdale, Jackson, and Lenawee County, as well as part of Barry and Washtenaw Counties, elected Nick to the U.S. House of Representatives. They re-elected him in 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002.   Smith pledged to serve only six terms/twelve years in Congress.  During those years he offered thirty-two bills and amendments to reduce spending and balance the budget.  Nick served as Chairman of the Research Subcommittee in Science, and was a senior member of the Budget and Agriculture Committee.  He also sat on the House International Relations Committee; serving on the subcommittees of Middle East, Central Asia, and International Terrorism.

Nick Smith IT Press Conference While in Congress, Nick was dedicated to several Congressional measures vital to Michigan's 7th District and all Americans. Some examples of his top priorities include:

Saving and reforming Social Security for current and future generations. He stayed at the forefront on these efforts, having Chaired the Budget Committee's Bipartisan Task Force on Social Security and by sponsoring legislation that has been scored by the Actuaries of the Social Security Administration to protect Social Security's long-term solvency.

Keeping federal spending in check and paying down the national debt so it would not burden our kids and grandkids. Smith chaired the House Task Force on the Debt and sponsored the Budget Enforcement Act, which limited discretionary spending and became part of the House budget agreement. He supported efforts to limit federal spending to a portion of the nation's GDP. He was committed to economic growth through free and fair trade, negotiating better trade agreements, and assisting working families and taxpayers by seeking to make the tax code flatter, simpler and fairer. He voted to end the marriage penalty tax and the estate tax and reduce marginal tax rates. Smith's Neutral Cost Recovery Act cuts taxes on business investments that will help to create jobs and income to help stimulate the economy.

Nick Smith reading to kids And improving K-12 education. As Chairman of the Research Subcommittee, he identified the need for better math and science education and finding ways to ignite students' enthusiasm for math and science to help meet the challenges of a new and emerging technological era. Smith frequently visited high school government and civics classes and read to students at elementary schools throughout the district to emphasize the importance of reading.

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and with his background in agriculture, Smith examined the issues and possibilities surrounding agricultural biotechnology and "genetically-modified products". His Chairman's report, "Seeds of Opportunity", noted biotechnology's incredible potential to enhance nutrition and health, feed a growing world population, and help protect the environment.

Nick receiving the CFSI award Also as Chairman of the Research Subcommitte, which oversees the U.S. Fire Administration, Smith worked hard to provide for the recognition and support to our nation's first responders. The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, started in 2001 by an amendment authored by Smith, provides $900 million in competitive peer-reviewed grants to fire departments struggling to meet basic needs in telecommunications, firefighting and safety equipment, and training. Several communities in Michigan's 7th Congressional District were awarded these grants. In 2002, Nick received an award of recognition from the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) for his efforts in supporting the fire service community.

Nick was also involved in the House Policy Committee, The Republican Study Committee, and was a member of the Former State Legislative Leaders Working Group, the Congressional Fire Caucus, and the Immigration Reform Caucus.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized by several organizations and received numerous awards, among them include:

  • "Taxpayer's Friend" from the the National Taxpayers' Union. Named most fiscally conservative member in Congress during the 100-day Contract with America.
  • "Taxpayer's Hero" from Citizens Against Government Waste.
  • "Tax Fighter Award" from the National Tax-Limitation Committee. Smith received an "A" rating based on an analysis of more than 1100 recorded votes.
  • "Friend of the Taxpayer" from Americans for Tax Reform.
  • "Golden Bulldog Award" from Watchdogs of the Treasury, Inc.
  • "Thomas Jefferson Award" for efforts to balance the budget, reduce the deficit, tax and spending cuts, and legal and regulatory reform.
  • "Spirit of Enterprise" from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for support of pro-growth economic policies.
  • "Guardian of Small Business" from the National Federation of Small Business.
  • "Deficit Hawk Award" and "Honor Roll" from the Concord Coalition.
  • "Champion of Private Property Rights" from the League of Private Property Voters.
  • "Senior Friendly" and "Guardian of Seniors' Rights" from the 60 Plus Association.
  • "National Association of Manufacturers Award" for manufacturing legislative excellence in support of American manufacturers and economic growth.
  • Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) award for efforts in supporting the fire service community.
  • "Presidential Award for Leadership" from the National Farmers Union for efforts to target farm payments to family farmers during the 2002 farm bill process.

After getting out of Congress in 2005, Smith returned to his farm in Addison - a portion of which has been in the Smith family for 170 years - where he has worked to expand corn, soybean, and wheat acres.  He is also part of the Former Members of Congress Speakers Group and gives presentations at Universities and groups in US and abroad - including the California Business Women's group and Oxford University in Great Britain.  He was elected to the Michigan Centennial Farm Association.  He also serves as a Deacon at Somerset Congregational Church - the church his ancestors helped found 152 years ago. 

His personal accomplishments include:

  • Black belt in Tae-Kwon-Do
  • State Star Farmer from FFA
  • Honorary FFA State Farmer
  • Fellowship, University of Delaware
  • Outstanding Young Men of America
  • Kellogg Foundation Agricultural Fellowship
  • 1988 Conservator of the Year for Farm Stewardship
  • Michigan State University Scholarship
  • Commandant's Award for Scholastics, United States Air Force
  • National Superior Service Award, Director of Energy Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Nick is married to his wife Bonnie. They have four children and twelve grandchildren.