Republican Senators Call On Agriculture Secretary To Support Free Trade

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Sonny Perdue was confirmed on Monday as the Trump administration's new agriculture secretary.

Prior to serving as governor of Georgia from 2003-2011 as a Republican, Perdue was elected to represent his Middle Georgia district in the state Senate as a Democrat.

"Sonny Perdue is the first Southern ag secretary in more than 20 years", Commissioner Quarles said. "Sonny Perdue is highly qualified to lead USDA and he can help ensure a strong and viable agricultural and rural economy", Lee said.

Purdue is a former state legislator and two-term governor in Georgia. During his confirmation hearing, he sought to assuage senators' concerns with large rural constituencies, promising to "do everything in my power" to "manage" Trump's priorities against the needs of small towns and farmers. The agency has a hand in promoting USA grain, meat and fiber to foreign buyers, regulates genetically engineered crops, inspects meatpacking plants and oversees the $71 billion Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program.

Earlier this year, Sasse convened a meeting between Perdue and Nebraska agriculture leaders, including Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater, and Nebraska Sugarbeet Growers President Kendall Busch.

Democrats surely think so.

Mississippian Mike Espy served as agriculture secretary under President Bill Clinton, leaving in 1994.

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Regarding those contributions, Lee noted that farms and businesses directly involved in the production, distribution and processing of USA cotton employ more than 125,000 workers and produce direct business revenue of more than $21 billion. Perdue's cousin, Sen David Perdue, R-Ga., presided over the Senate for the vote. He recognizes the essential roles that immigration, trade, and regulation play in a farmer's ability to run his business, all of which will shape the debate as Congress works to pass the farm bill and appropriations bills. The current measure expires in 2018.

Perdue was last Cabinet-level pick to be announced by Trump, and it took weeks to submit his Senate paperwork as he looked to untie himself from his myriad business interests.

At his hearing, he pledged to help senators sustain popular crop insurance programmes and fix problems with government dairy programmes.

"He understands that the Agriculture Department has a profound impact on almost every community across the country and certainly every family", said U.S. Sen.

The new secretary of agriculture will be sworn in on Tuesday.

Perdue, 70, graduated with a degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia, and served in the U.S. Air Force.