“The yeas are 87, the nays are 11, one senator responded ‘present. The nomination is confirmed,” was the final announcement.
That set the stage for Perdue to follow through on his planned first visit to USDA headquarters as Agriculture Secretary Tuesday. Awaiting him was a reception by USDA career staff and employees.
Senate Democrats largely backed Perdue, even while criticizing President Trump for proposing a big cut to USDA’s budget. Top Ag Democrat Debbie Stabenow.
“For months rural America has not had a voice in this administration, and frankly it shows,” she said. “President Trump’s budget proposal makes it clear that rural America is not a top priority for his administration. His proposal cuts USDA funding by 21 percent, the third largest cut of any federal agency.”
Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts criticized the last administration for overregulating agriculture, but agreed with Stabenow, the industry needs an advocate, now, more than ever.
“Our farmers and ranchers have been long waiting for this important role to be filled,” he said from Senate floor. I know Secretary Perdue will put the needs of farmers, ranchers and others, and Rural America first, and lead us in both the House and Senate to implement a productive trade policy and economic recovery in rural and small town America.”
Perdue’s confirmation is a welcome relief. He now to gets to the business of filling more than a dozen subcabinet posts, including the Deputy, Under and Assistant Secretaries that also need Senate confirmation, and hundreds of other positions within the agency.
Perdue takes over already facing big challenges, including four-years of chronically low commodity prices and the urgent need for a new farm bill.