Trump announces Perdue as nominee
President-elect Donald Trump has selected former Georgia Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue for Agriculture secretary.
The selection of Perdue will fulfill a suggestion of outgoing Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who had proposed the next president choose a governor because the activities of the USDA are so broad.
But it also means Trump will not have a Hispanic member of his Cabinet. The other candidate under consideration was former California Republican Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, a descendant of farm workers and a vineyard owner.
Perdue is a doctor of veterinary medicine and was a member of Trump’s agricultural advisory committee, and popular with that group.
As a southerner, Perdue can be expected to be a traditionalist on the importance of commodity supports and sensitive to the cotton industry, which has suffered problems since the 2014 farm bill ended its traditional support program in order to respond to a World Trade Organization case against the U.S. cotton program that the United States lost to Brazil. Cotton growers have asked USDA to declare cotton seed an oilseed, but the Obama administration has said that would violate the law.
The farm bill set up a crop insurance program for cotton, but growers have said it does not work very well.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had urged Trump to pick a northerner. Grassley has had battles for years with southern legislators over the size of commodity support payments.
American Soybean Association President Ron Moore, an Illinois producer, said the soybean growers congratulated Perdue, and said his members look forward to working with Perdue on everything from implementing “a viable risk management framework to helping expand our markets overseas, to investing in agricultural research here at home.”
Ag leaders issue statements on Perdue
Congressional agriculture leaders today issued cautious statements on President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, to be Agriculture secretary.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
“The most important quality for the Agriculture secretary to possess is a solid understanding of the tough economic challenges farmers and ranchers face due to three years of low prices, declining land values, and difficult lending conditions.
“As we write a new farm bill, the secretary must understand that we are operating in a new landscape. Everyone in farm country is having a hard time. We need a secretary who can recall the 1980s and will do everything within their power to make sure we do not return to those conditions.
“The secretary must understand all aspects of the job. A strong understanding of agriculture, rural development, natural resources, and nutrition programs is a must. In addition, the nominee must understand the effects of regulatory actions outside the Department of Agriculture and the importance of trade to our farmers and ranchers. We need an advocate for agriculture.
“I appreciated my conversation with Gov. Perdue before his announcement and look forward to meeting with him again as the Committee completes a thorough confirmation process. Together, we must get to work addressing these immediate and future challenges.”
Senate Ag Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
“Today, we have finally received a nomination for Agriculture secretary, a critically important position that ensures the strength and vitality of American agriculture, small towns, and rural communities across Michigan and the entire country.
“It is imperative that the next Agriculture secretary is ready on Day One to support our nation’s food producers and local communities, protect our land, water, and wildlife habitats, and ensure all Americans have access to healthy food.
“I intend to take a close look at Gov. Perdue’s qualifications to lead USDA and balance the department’s important missions on and off the farm. I look forward to hearing his ideas for how to best support both farmers and families.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas
“Agriculture is the backbone of our nation. However, America’s farmers and ranchers are facing difficult times under current farm conditions, and they deserve a secretary who will work diligently to turn those tides.
“As we begin working on the next farm bill, the secretary will play a vital role in implementing positive changes for our producers and must understand every aspect of the job at hand. We need someone who is willing to work every day with the mindset of protecting America’s farmers and ranchers, especially when it comes to introducing regulatory actions.
“I look forward to working with Sonny Perdue, especially on the committee’s priorities as Congress begins its work toward the next farm bill.”
House Ag Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.:
“Agriculture and rural America play such an important role in our economy. With the appointment of Perdue, who has a background in agriculture, I am hopeful we will get a better sense of the incoming administration’s policy plans for rural America.
“There is a lot of work ahead of us including reauthorizing the farm bill, maintaining the RFS and rolling back some of the regulations that are negatively impacting farmers. I look forward to sharing the concerns of Midwestern farmers with Perdue and getting to work.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine
“I’m relieved that there is finally someone to consider for secretary of Agriculture. But I’m concerned that the selection took so long to make, given this post’s importance to rural communities.
“While I appreciate Sonny Perdue’s farm experience and government service, I worry that he may not be familiar with the diversity of agriculture across the country. For decades, federal farm policy has mostly benefited the country’s largest producers. I hope Mr. Perdue understands that one size does not fit all in farming and that he would work with me to continue advancing growing markets—including organic and local — that provide long-term economic opportunities for farmers.
“As I have in the past, I intend to work closely with this administration’s U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure Maine farmers get the support they need, that nutrition programs are preserved and promote healthy food options, and that rural areas have the resources they need to thrive.”
Many groups issue reactions to Perdue nomination
A wide range of agriculture, farm and nutrition groups issued statements Friday on President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of former Perdue for Agriculture secretary.
Industry groups praised the announcement, but many of the statements said as much about a group’s agenda as they did about Trump’s selection of Perdue. Left-leaning groups seemed to visit the nomination as a time to begin organizing. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce reiterated its faith in former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, another candidate for the job, and said it will continue to advise Trump.
United States Cattlemen’s Association
USCA President Kenny Graner issued the following statement: “USCA commends President-elect Trump on his long-awaited nomination of Secretary of Agriculture. Sonny Purdue led a state with a $74-billion agricultural sector and a robust cattle industry, and we are confident that Mr. Purdue will serve as a strong leader for rural America. Given Mr. Purdue’s veterinary background, we know that we will have a strong advocate for issues related to animal health and welfare.
USCA looks forward to working with Mr. Purdue and his staff on the challenges facing today’s livestock industry, including the current state of the cattle market and lack of competition and true price discovery; the need to modernize the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting law and the Packers and Stockyards Act; the opening up of export markets, such as China, with a growing demand for U.S. beef; and a clear definition for country-of-origin labeling information.”
American Farm Bureau Federation
President Zippy Duvall: “The nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture is welcome news to the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Gov. Perdue will provide the strong voice that agriculture needs in the new administration. He is an outstanding nominee.
“I have known Gov. Perdue for years. I’ve seen firsthand his commitment to the business of agriculture as we worked together on issues facing farmers and ranchers in our home state of Georgia. He understands the challenges facing rural America because that’s where he was born and raised. 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 American Farm Bureau looks forward to continuing our work with USDA under Gov. Perdue’s leadership. When farmers and ranchers are free to access cutting-edge technologies, reach new markets and make decisions that protect their businesses and resources, we all are better off.”
American Feed Industry Association
President and CEO Joel Newman: “The American Feed Industry Association is pleased with President-elect Donald Trump’s latest, and final, cabinet selection–former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as secretary of agriculture. AFIA works with USDA on a broad slate of issues such as trade and implementation of the farm bill. We believe Gov. Perdue’s political and agriculture-related background make him a sound fit for the role.
“Gov. Perdue holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine, and following his service as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, he became a successful small business owner, concentrating in agribusiness and transportation.
“We look forward to working closely with the new agriculture secretary, assisting him and his staff on animal food-related topics, and how our 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.”
American Soybean Association
President Ron Moore: “Congratulations to Gov. Perdue. USDA touches the lives of every American, and it is among the most crucial government functions for farmers across the United States.
“For soybean farmers, USDA serves us in so many ways. 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.”
Environmental Working Group
Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber: “It should be no surprise that the incoming Trump administration, which has proposed putting executives from Big Food and Big Oil in top cabinet positions, would pick someone like Gov. Perdue — who has received taxpayer-funded farm subsidies — to lead the Department of Agriculture.
“We hope the Senate will look closely at these subsidies as well as at the political contributions Gov. Perdue has received from food giants, farm chemical companies and farm lobbyists, and ask whether he will help fix or help defend a subsidy system rigged against family farmers and the environment. It’s certainly hard to imagine that a former fertilizer salesman will tackle the unregulated farm pollution that poisons our drinking water, turns Lake Erie green, and fouls the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.”
Between 1995 and 2004, Perdue took in more than $278,000 in federal farm subsidy dollars courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, EWG said.
Georgia Cattlemen’s Association
President Kyle Gillooly: “The Georgia Cattlemen’s Association is excited to hear the selection of Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA. Gov. Perdue has always been a strong supporter of agriculture. His background in agribusiness and as a veterinarian will bring a wealth of knowledge and real-world common sense to a department that is vitally important to the success of our nation.
“As a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, he understands the issues we face in the livestock industry and he is a true believer in the land-grant university system, their mission, and how they impact the cattle industry across the nation. His experience leading the state of Georgia, with its large agriculture heritage, will be invaluable to the Trump administration.”
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
President and Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry Mike Strain: “We congratulate Gov. Perdue and welcome the opportunity to work together. The next farm bill, expanding export opportunities for U.S. producers, and the fostering a regulatory environment that allows agriculture to thrive are key priorities we look forward to partnering on with Gov. Perdue. Most importantly, we look forward to working cooperatively, as state and federal partners, to advance the success of farmers and ranchers who feed families in the U.S. and beyond.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
President Tracy Brunner: “Gov. Perdue’s an excellent pick to head the Agriculture Department. As a lifelong agri-businessman and veterinarian, as well as the two-term governor of a state where agriculture’s the largest industry, Gov. Perdue has a unique and expert understanding of both the business and scientific sides of agriculture.
“In a time of increasing regulations and a growing governmental footprint, we have no doubt that Gov. Perdue will step in and stand up for rural America so that we can continue to do what we do best — provide the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.”
National Farmers Union
President Roger Johnson
“Given the challenging state of the farm economy, more than ever, family farmers and ranchers need a champion in Washington. I am hopeful we will find that champion in Sonny Perdue.
“USDA is more than agriculture’s agency; it is America’s agency. We look forward to working with Mr. Perdue and the new administration to create and defend a strong farm safety net and provide meaningful farm policy solutions for producers, particularly dairy farmers and cotton growers, in the next farm bill.
“We will also ask that USDA take a proactive approach to building opportunities for rural America, increase support for conservation as a way to manage risk on the farm, and expand market opportunities for all types of agriculture production.” F
–The Hagstrom Report
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