Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump picks former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary, filling out his Cabinet

Sonny Perdue and his wife Mary introducing then Indiana
Gov. Mike Pence in August in Perry, Ga.
(Macon Telegraph photo by Woody Marshall)
President-elect Donald Trump has picked former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary, as reported likely here Jan. 2. Chris Mooney and John Wagner of The Washington Post report that Perdue had been expected to be named to the position two weeks ago, but Trump remained mum on naming a U.S. Department of Agriculture until just before his inauguration. It is the final Cabinet position to be selected.

Trump is expected to make a formal announcement today, reports Politico. "In making the announcement, the president-elect's transition team plans to stress Perdue’s focus on rural communities and family farms, describing it as a 'key part of the Trump movement,' a source says."

"Perdue started his career in politics in 1990 with a successful run for the state Senate as a Democrat, where he served until he launched his campaign for governor in 2001," reports Politico. "He switched parties and beat the Democratic incumbent, Roy Barnes, in a long-shot run for state chief executive by appealing to rural white voters, a victory many have described as similar to Trump’s."

Perdue, who grew up on a farm and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine, "took conservative stances on immigration and voting rights" while governor of Georgia, reports the Post. He also "drew national headlines for holding a public vigil to pray for rain in 2007 amidst a crippling drought. Although Perdue’s Georgia is not among the nation’s top 10 agricultural states, it is home to 42,000 farms, with a strong focus in the cattle industry."

Perdue who toured USDA headquarters on Wednesday, has the support of several agricultural organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Soybean Association, the North American Meat Institute and the National Chicken Council, Philip Brasher reports for Agri-Pulse. Zippy Duvall, AFBF president and a Georgia farmer, "said that Perdue is a strong administrator whose 'roots go back to the farm.'" Duvall, who was president of the Georgia Farm Bureau while Perdue was governor, said he “always had a open door to farmers,” and he “understands agriculture and its importance to our country and its citizens."

The Farm Credit Council said in a statement: “Perdue has a long history of personal involvement in agriculture. He knows the challenges facing our nation's farmers and rural families.”

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