Born circa 1954, Shipman earned a B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut in 1976, and immediately went to work at the Agriculture Department in the Federal Grain Inspection Service. As Acting Administrator of the Field Management Division, he managed the national grain inspection and weighing system and the testing program for processed products, including cornmeal, vegetable oil and crackers.
In April 2008, he was named the Associate Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, where he was responsible for programs to encourage both domestic and international sales of U.S. agricultural products, including the establishment of quality standards and industry-funded research and promotion programs, such as the “Got Milk” campaign. In November 2011, a similar program for Christmas tree growers was erroneously attacked by some Republicans as an Obama administration tax on Christmas trees. In fact, it was the growers of fresh cut trees who had called for the imposition of fees on themselves to raise money for a campaign to counter the growth of the artificial tree industry.
Shipman has also been engaged in implementing provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill to support farmer conversion to organic operations and to promote the sale of specialty crops, and overseeing the purchase of $1 billion a year worth of agricultural products for the National School Lunch Program and other food assistance programs.