Donning a blue tractor tie, former Georgia Gov. Sunny Perdue breezed through his confirmation hearing to become the leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, what he called “the people’s department.”
Although he won’t be named Secretary unless he passes a vote of the Agriculture Committee and the full Senate, agriculture groups have waited not-so-patiently for today to come and reacted positively to Perdue’s performance during the confirmation hearing.
“Today, Governor Perdue promised to be a ‘strong and tenacious advocate’ for America’s farmers and ranchers and ‘USDA’s chief salesman around the world,’” said the National Corn Growers Association. “USDA has been without a Secretary for more than two months, at a time when there is much work to do.”
“If confirmed, I will work for agriculture producers and consumers to let this administration ... know what’s important to America,” Perdue said.
Trade policy, immigration, renewable fuels, the next farm bill and the budget are among topics Senators grilled Secretary Perdue on during the hearing. Industry groups reacted well to how he handled the questioning.
“We are greatly encouraged that Gov. Perdue expressed his commitment during the hearing to working on two priority issues for dairy: improving the MPP safety net program, and making it easier for dairy farmers to employ immigrant workers," says Chris Galen of the National Milk Producers Federation. "We look forward to coordinating with him on these issues once he’s at USDA.”
A champion for agriculture is just what the industry was hoping to find in Perdue.
A Farmer First
Ag groups have generally supported Perdue since his initial nomination by President Trump in late February. Part of what has been so appealing to the agriculture industry about Perdue is his background as a farmer.
In a recent letter sent to the Senate Agriculture committee, more than 700 farm groups wrote: "There have been 30 Secretaries of Agriculture since the job was created in 1889, and though some were raised on a farm, only two actually lived and worked in agriculture as adults. If confirmed, Sonny Perdue will be number three."