Senate Confirms Sonny Perdue

Lizzy Schultz

The U.S. Senate has formally confirmed the nomination of George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III to serve as the 31st Secretary of Agriculture. The final vote was 87 to 11.

Agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, Perdue worked on the family farm in central Georgia andn will be only the fourth agriculture secretary who can claim to have been a farmer. According to his bio from USDA, it was the family farm which shaped Sonny Perdue. “He has lived and breathed the exhilaration of a great crop and the despair and devastation of a drought. He learned by experience what his father told him as a child, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.””

Perdue was the last cabinet member to be nominated before President Trump took office in January but there is still one more to be confirmed and that is Alex Acosta, who was second choice for labor secretary after Trump’s first choice withdrew. Perdue is scheduled to make his first remarks to USDA staff members at 9:00 am Eastern time Tuesday morning.

Listen to the comments of senators supporting Perdue’s confirmation on the floor Monday.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – McConnell/Perdue
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) – Roberts/Perdue
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) – Stabenow/Perdue
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) – Tester/Perdue
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) – Isakson/Perdue

Representatives of the animal agriculture industry voiced support for Perdue’s confirmation, echoing their overwhelming support for Perdue’s initial nomination in January.

Craig Uden, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), released a statement of support for Perdue late yesterday: “We are excited to have a Secretary that comes from the industry, understands the complexities of our business, and is willing to stand up and fight for the hard-working men and women in rural America.”

A statement from the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) voiced support for Perdue’s experience working in production agriculture and his training as a veterinarian: “Secretary Perdue is highly qualified to run USDA, having grown up on a farm, been trained as a veterinarian, enjoyed success as a small businessman, and serving as Georgia governor for eight years,We look forward to working together to create new opportunities to better the lives of dairy farmers and others living in rural America.”

“NPPC and America’s pork producers look forward to working with Secretary Perdue,” National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President Ken Maschhoff said. “He is the kind of leader the pork industry, and the entire livestock industry, needs at the USDA.”

“USMEF is pleased to see Secretary Perdue receive such strong, bipartisan support in the Senate, and we look forward to working with him to promote U.S. red meat products worldwide,” said U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip Seng. “We are confident that Secretary Perdue will be a champion for U.S. agriculture and will help the Trump administration build strong relationships with key trading partners.”

A statement from the National Turkey Federation (NTF) said the following: “Perdue understands that agriculture is the foundation of our nation and that, given a strong economic environment; America has an unmatched capacity to help feed a hungry world.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also voiced support for Perdue’s confirmation and praised the inclusion of a veterinarian at the helm of USDA: “Including input from veterinarians in USDA decisions is increasingly important as advancing technologies and science-based evidence shed light on the interdependency of animal health and human health,” AVMA said in a statement. “Keeping food supplies safe, ensuring responsible drug use and preventing zoonotic disease are all areas within which collaboration among veterinary medicine and other scientific, health and environmental disciplines is valuable.”

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