Orville Freeman, secretary of Agriculture during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, is returning to Washington on June 1 as chairman of the new international law department of the law firm Popham, Haik, Schnobrich, Kaufman & Doty, Ltd. Freeman, who also served three terms as governor of Minnesota, has been getting reoriented in the practice of law since early April at the firm's Minneapolis headquarters.

The former Agriculture secretary, 66, retired as chairman of Business International Corp., a New York research, consulting and publishing company to assume his new position. But he will continue as chairman emeritus of the firm.

During Freeman's reign in the Agriculture Department, a massive food aid program was enacted to ship farm surplus to developing countries. Freeman has continued to focus on agricultural issues and has said that he will negotiate for and advise the firm's corporate clients on foreign investment opportunities, particularly agribusiness ventures in developing countries. Author of "World Without Hunger" (Praeger 1968), Freeman is a member of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger.

Freeman was known as a globe-trotting governor who often led trips -- including a tour of Minnesotans to the Far East in 1957 -- to drum up new business for state companies and agricultural products. He will continue his international travels with the law firm.

Freeman heads the India-U.S. Business Advisory Council and a similar joint council with Nigeria. He is also chairman of United Nations Association Substantive Issues Committee and U.S. Grain Policy Panel.