Sonny Perdue gains confirmation to become nation's ag chief

26 April 2017, 08:48 | Noah Barnes

Rep. Tom Graves said, "As Agriculture Secretary, Governor Perdue will be a strong voice for our nation's farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses, and an effective leader for this important department".

At the hearing, Perdue endorsed Heitkamp's bipartisan bill to expand USA agricultural exports to Cuba by lifting private financing restrictions on exports-a bill Heitkamp pressed Perdue on when they met earlier this year.

Agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, Perdue worked on the family farm in central Georgia andn will be only the fourth agriculture secretary who can claim to have been a farmer.

"That is a problem, a constant issue for agriculture that is not new", Starling said. Secretary Perdue's experience as an exporter and governor leading trade missions will be invaluable as this administration pursues trade policy.

He also visited Cuba, China and South America as part of several trade missions aimed at growing exports for Peach State farmers.

As agriculture secretary, he will oversee around 100,000 employees and the nation's food and farm programs.

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Secretary Perdue's upbringing on a farm makes him the right person for the position, says the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Democrats surely think so.

Many farmers are relying on Perdue to revive their businesses as they are suffering a downturn in the market.

All this comes as Trump tries to crack down on illegal immigration to the United States, an issue that could leave many farms short-staffed due to their reliance on foreign - and sometimes, undocumented - workers. Trump has proposed a 21 percent cut in USDA programs and has harshly criticized some worldwide trade deals, saying they have killed American jobs. Over the coming year, Purdue's main task will be working with lawmakers on the next five-year farm bill. David Perdue, R-Ga., voted present.

After Perdue, remaining nominees for Trump's administration to be confirmed are Robert Lighthizer for USA trade representative and Alexander Acosta for labor secretary. Perdue is scheduled to make his first remarks to USDA staff members at 9:00 am Eastern time Tuesday morning. "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.

Perdue was last Cabinet-level pick to be announced by Trump, and it took weeks to submit his Senate paperwork as he looked to untie himself from his myriad business interests. With the country facing challenges and opportunities on issues requiring veterinary expertise, such as animal health, animal welfare and public health, having strong veterinary leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is more important than ever.



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