|Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Photo courtesy of Georgia.gov.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – U.S. agriculture groups praised the nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, 70, as agriculture secretary, saying he is an “outstanding” choice. He is the final appointee to President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) noted his vast experience in agriculture, including as an owner of three agribusiness and transportation firms that serve farmers across the Southeast. He served as a member of NGFA’s board of directors from 2014 until his nomination.
"Gov. Perdue is an accomplished, innovative, problem-solving and proven public servant, and is an excellent choice to serve as secretary of agriculture," said Randy Gordon, president of the NGFA. "He has strong rural roots, having grown up on a row-crop and dairy farm, and is a person of impeccable character, trustworthiness and integrity who is an energetic, passionate and tireless advocate for U.S. agriculture and for America. Gov. Perdue also is a very open and receptive person who seeks out and listens to advice. He also possesses the business acumen, experience, common sense and sound policy-making background that will serve him extremely well as a member of the president's cabinet."
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said it is pleased with the selection of Perdue, and said his political and agriculture-related background make him a sound fit for the role. Perdue would take over from Tom Vilsack, the current head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Perdue was Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011, and was the first Republican elected to the office in 135 years. He has a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia, and was a captain in the U.S. Air Force. Following his service, he became a small business owner, focusing on agribusiness and transportation.
He was a Georgia State Senator for 11 years, and left in 2001 to start his campaign for governor.
NGFA’s Gordon also stressed Perdue's belief in and commitment to agricultural trade, and its importance to U.S. economic growth, job creation and the vitality of rural communities. During his two terms as Georgia governor, Perdue promoted the state and its products to 25 countries, while making significant investments in the state's port infrastructure, leading to record levels of exports of Georgia products. As leader of his agribusiness enterprises, Perdue also has traded agricultural commodities in domestic and export markets.
"We believe Gov. Perdue will be a proactive advocate for U.S. agriculture in expanding mutually beneficial trade that is so essential to the future economic well-being of U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in all regions of the country, given the fact that 95% of consumers live outside our borders," Gordon said.
The NGFA also noted that Perdue is a fierce advocate of regulatory reform, and brought those talents to the Georgia statehouse while serving as governor.
"There's no question he will bring that same zeal to roll back regulatory excesses within the federal government that have undermined the competitiveness and efficiency of America's farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses," Gordon said.
The AFIA said it looks forward to working with Perdue on animal food-related topics and how the industry relates to other agriculture sectors and to consumers.
“This will be particularly important as Congress, the administration and industry come together to draft and enact the new farm bill," the AFIA said.
Zippy Duvall, a Georgia native who serves as president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, also expressed his confidence in Perdue’s ability to lead the agency. He understands the challenges facing rural America because that’s where he was born and raised, Duvall said. He is a businessman who recognizes the impact immigration reform, trade agreements and regulation have on a farmer’s bottom line and ability to stay in business from one season to the next.
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulated Perdue on his nomination and said they look forward to working with Perdue on issues of importance to their members.
“For soybean farmers, USDA serves us in so many ways,” the ASA said. “From working to implement a viable risk management framework to helping expand our markets overseas, to investing in agricultural research here at home, these are critical elements of the farm economy, and we look forward to working alongside USDA under Secretary Perdue to ensure that the department continues to serve American soybean farmers in the most effective manner possible.”
Perdue’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate.