U.S. Senate confirms Perdue as secretary of agriculture

by Jay Sjerven
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Sonny Perdue_Confirmation
Sonny Perdue, with his wife Mary Perdue, takes the oath of office administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas in the U.S. Supreme Court Building, becoming the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Senate on April 24 confirmed the nomination of Governor George E. (Sonny) Perdue to be the nation’s 31st secretary of agriculture. The vote was 87 to 11.

“I’m pleased that the U.S. Senate was able to work in a bipartisan fashion to confirm Governor Perdue,” said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, U.S., chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “I have faith that Governor Perdue will put the needs of farmers and ranchers first, and I know that rural America is thankful to have such a qualified agriculture secretary on their side.” 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway commended the confirmation and said that Perdue is a friend to the U.S. ag industry.

“Secretary Perdue is a strong friend of America’s farmers and ranchers, and I know he will work to ensure that agriculture is a top priority in the new administration,” Conaway said. “President Trump has made it clear he supports a good farm bill that is delivered on time and includes a strong safety net for our nation’s farmers. That is absolutely critical as rural America struggles against the largest 4-year percentage decline in net farm income since the start of the Great Depression. It is good to have someone at the table fighting on behalf of rural America, and I look forward to working with Secretary Perdue as we develop a strong farm bill that improves the lives of America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The National Corn Growers Association support the new leader implemented to spearhead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The USDA has been without a secretary for too long, but we are confident that Secretary Perdue will bring strong leadership to the department,” the NCGA said. “There are still more than 200 political appointments at USDA that have yet to be made. We strongly urge the administration to move quickly in filling these positions.”

Farmer and grain industry associations applauded the confirmation.

“Secretary Perdue’s expertise, considerable experience in production agriculture, agribusiness and state government, and his ability to engage effectively with others will serve him and U.S. agriculture well as he assumes a leadership role within the administration on trade, the farm bill, regulatory overreach and other issues important to American agriculture,” said Randy Gordon, president of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA).

Gordon said as the owner of three agribusiness and transportation firms serving farmers across the Southeast, Perdue had served as a member of the NGFA’s board of directors from 2014 until his nomination by President Donald J. Trump earlier this year. Perdue also had served as a member of NGFA’s Country Elevator Committee in the early 1980s. He won election as Georgia’s governor in 2003 and was reelected to a second term in 2006 with 58% of the vote.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Perdue and his capable team as they ‘hit the ground running’ in addressing pending, current and future issues important to U.S. agriculture,” Gordon said.

David Schemm, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), believes Perdue is an ideal candidate for this leadership role due to Perdue’s past experience in the ag industry.

“Governor Perdue’s confirmation comes at a critical time as negotiations for the 2018 farm bill reauthorization are underway and as the White House drafts a new trade agenda,” Schemm said. “He recognizes the essential roles that immigration, trade and regulation play in a farmer’s ability to run their business, all of which will shape the debate as congress works to pass the farm bill and appropriations bills. As farmers face challenging economic times, we have confidence that Governor Perdue will bring the agriculture industry back on track.”

Ken Wood, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, added, “Secretary Perdue will do a great job advocating for farmers across the country, and we look forward to working with him over the next four years.”

Wood’s praise joined that of Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kansas Wheat, who said, “Agriculture is facing many challenges right now. It is important for us to have Perdue's leadership in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as a salesman for U.S. grown commodities.”
 
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