President-Elect Donald Trump has proclaimed his choice for Agriculture Secretary. In a late-night announcement Jan. 18, insiders said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue would be appointed to the post, which Trump confirmed today.
Perdue was long thought to be leading the pack of nominees. However, that’s not saving him some sharp criticism. Many farmers think the Secretary should be someone from the Midwest, but Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says location shouldn’t be a factor and that Perdue is more than qualified to lead the department.
“Everything I now about Gov. Perdue indicates he will be a good Agriculture Secretary,” he told AgriTalk host Mike Adams. “I look back at a couple of Secretaries of Agriculture that I thought did a good job, including Secretary Vilsack and former secretary Mike Johanns, and the common theme is being governor. A governor provides significant background and experience that can be helpful.”
Moran says he spoke with Perdue on the phone last night and reminded him how important all segments of agriculture are.
“It’s not a division between the south and the Midwest,” he says. “There aren’t enough of us who care about farmers and ranchers to have divisions. A lot more brings us together, than pulls us apart.”
According to Perdue, improving the chance a young son or daughter will return home to the farm increasing should be the goal.
“If you’re a family farmer that raises peaches in Georgia, it’s about the same thing as a wheat farmer in Kansas,” he said. “The goal is to farm so well there’s opportunity for your children and grandchildren to take over the business.”
Fighting for Rural America
The Secretary of Agriculture needs to be somebody that is able to work in an administration to advance the cause rural America, Moran says.
“One of the things I was looking for in a Secretary of Agriculture is someone who has the backbone and the stature to stand up to other officials in the administration,” he says. “Someone who is willing to poke the chest of the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, somebody who is willing to go to bat at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, somebody who is going to knock on the door of a trade representative to promote agriculture trade. From what I know of Gov. Perdue, that is something he’s willing and able to do.”
Moran doesn’t anticipate there to be much of a transition period for Perdue. Many of the professionals who work at USDA remain at the department from one administration to the next.
“The professionals are [already] there – now it just takes leadership,” he says. “I expect Sonny Perdue to walk in the door and go to work.”