The U.S. Senate voted Monday evening to confirm Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary, just shy of 100 days after his nomination announcement by then President-elect Donald Trump. The Senate voted 87 – 11 to confirm Perdue. The White House said Perdue would be sworn in Tuesday and immediately begin work at the Department of Agriculture. Perdue and his family were in the Senate gallery during the vote.
The confirmation is a long-awaited win for agriculture and for farm groups who are dealing with trade issues with Canada over dairy, disaster relief efforts from plains wildfires, and beginning Farm Bill talks. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly voted in favor of Perdue. Donnelly, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said, “Indiana’s farmers and rural communities are counting on Mr. Perdue to look out for them and help set the table for success. We must continue supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard, improving conservation efforts, and ensuring that Hoosier farmers have access to markets across the world. That must happen hand-in-hand with efforts to enhance economic opportunities for rural communities by committing to expanded access to broadband, while we also fight the devastating opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics. I am hopeful that Mr. Perdue will do his best to fulfill these responsibilities by listening to farmers and families in Indiana and our country.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, also from Georgia, said in a recent editorial that the vote to confirm Perdue was “overdue,” adding “there’s important work ahead for the agriculture secretary.” After the confirmation vote Duvall said in a statement, “Secretary Perdue is a long-time friend to me and farmers across Georgia, and soon to the millions of men and women across our country who feed and clothe our nation. He is a real-world farmer himself and knows the business inside out. He understands the impact farm labor shortages, trade agreements and regulations have on a farmer’s bottom line and ability to stay in business from one season to the next. There’s important work ahead for the secretary, and he’ll need to address these challenges against the backdrop of the biggest drop in farm prices and income we’ve seen in decades. But just like America’s farmers and ranchers, I know Secretary Perdue isn’t afraid of a hard day’s work. We are confident he is the right man for the job at hand.”
Other major farm organizations also released statements in support of the confirmation vote:
“The National Corn Growers Association congratulates Secretary Perdue on his confirmation. USDA has been without a Secretary for too long, but we are confident that Secretary Perdue will bring strong leadership to the Department. There are still more than 200 political appointments at USDA that have yet to be made. We strongly urge the Administration to move quickly in filling these positions.”
“Congratulations to Secretary Perdue on his confirmation. Farm Credit looks forward to partnering with him in support of rural communities and agriculture. At a time when many farmers are facing challenges with low commodity prices and competitive overseas markets, Secretary Perdue’s leadership at USDA will be critical. His deep, personal experience in agriculture will be a great asset as he works to maintain the safety net for U.S. Producers, open markets for U.S. agricultural products and rebuild rural infrastructure.”- Farm Credit Council CEO Todd Van Hoose.
“Sonny Perdue is the kind of leader the pork industry, and the entire livestock industry, needs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’ll be very good for America’s farmers and ranchers.” – NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois.
“The success of rural America is inextricably linked to a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and growing adoption of higher ethanol blends at the pump. The USDA has played an integral role in this success and we are excited to see Secretary Perdue’s plans to continue leading the way in protecting the economic wellbeing of America’s farmers, while giving consumers the choice for homegrown biofuels at the pump.” – Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.
“Decisions made every day at the USDA have a significant impact on our ability to run our operations. 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. We are looking forward to working with Secretary Perdue in his new role leading the Department of Agriculture.” – Craig Uden, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.