In an 87-11 vote, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture Monday.
When Perdue was nominated on Jan. 18 and when he was confirmed on April 24, a total of 96 days passed without a leader of the USDA. Because of the delay, he needs to hit the ground running.
Former USDA Sec. Mike Johanns said the delay was not any fault of Perdue’s, rather the confirmation took longer than it should have.
Johanns knows the struggles of being the secretary of agriculture and how easy it is to get buried in phone calls and meetings. He says one of the most “important” thing Perdue will have to do is to “get his people in place” because he’s going to need a “strong team.”
Perdue has other challenges to face outside his office as he gets ready to lead the agriculture department. One of the most pressing is the relationship between Canadian and U.S. milk. Johanns stressed Perdue has to get on the dairy issue “quickly” because this could be seen as a way to build bipartisan support.
The House and Senate have been able to get a head start on the 2018 Farm Bill while Perdue was waiting for his confirmation, but there still needs to be work done.
When it comes to trade, Johanns said Perdue needs to be at the table for trade talks, and he must go where they are because ag shouldn’t be traded.
“The best representative for ag will be Sonny Perdue,” said Johanns.
Hear Johanns discuss the importance of Perdue’s position when talks of renegotiating NAFTA surface, as well as the relationship between Canada and the U.S. on AgriTalk above