Published: Wed, April 26, 2017
Local | By Dorothy Bennett

Senate confirms 31st Secretary of Agriculture: Sonny Perdue

"As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families", Perdue said.

Sonny Perdue is the 31st Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, confirmed April 24 by the U.S. Senate.

Perdue, 70, is a businessman, veterinarian, and former Georgia state senator who served as governor of Georgia from 2003-2011. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said in a statement Monday. Because of his more than 20 years of public service, Governor Perdue has garnered significant bipartisan backing and was reported out of committee with near unanimous support.

"His experience as a farmer and a governor of an agriculture state make him an ideal candidate to run the country's leading authority on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, and nutrition policy", Schemm said. With farm prices down for several years and with a dispute with Canada's dairy industry in progress, will Perdue have viable solutions?

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Democrats surely think so. Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin encouraged the agriculture secretary to come to Wisconsin to talk to affected farmers, assuring him that he has his full support.

Nebraska 3rd District Congressman Adrian Smith of Gering, founder and co-chairman of the Modern Agriculture Caucus, praises the confirmation.calling it "great news for Nebraska agriculture" because Perdue is "well-positioned to lead the USDA in helping create more opportunity for USA producers".

The Nebraska Farmer's Union said Perdue looks to be up to the challenges ahead, including immediate work "to address the depressed farm economy, offering assistance to struggling farmers across the country". Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in USDA programs and has harshly criticized some global trade deals, saying they have killed American jobs. Perdue's cousin, Sen David Perdue, R-Ga., presided over the Senate for the vote.

US President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday that looks to help the American agriculture business by establishing a task force to identify impediments to the business' growth, the media reported. "His long-standing ties to major agribusiness and chemical companies have made him out of touch with American values", said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, Friends of the Earth Food Futures campaigner. He is not associated with the food company Perdue or the poultry producer Perdue Farms. Robert Lighthizer, Trump's nominee for US trade representative, and Alexander Acosta, nominated to head the Labor Department, still await confirmation, Market Watch reports.

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