Quarles: Perdue confirmation is good for Kentucky

Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson also voted in favor of Perdue's nomination, saying the governor's "experience and leadership in public service, business and agriculture will benefit our nation". Perdue's home state of Georgia accounted for just 2 percent of total USA agriculture exports in 2015.

Ahead of today's vote, Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said the nominating committee received letters of recommendation from six prior Secretaries of Agriculture, and urged bipartisan support for an industry that has much work ahead drafting the next farm bill and pursuing new trade agreements, among other tasks with which Perdue will be highly involved. There are now more than 100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees under his direction. Mike Rounds voted for him, as he was confirmed Monday by a vote of 87-11.

Perdue has the wide backing of farming and agriculture groups in Georgia and beyond and only limited opposition among some environmental groups.

Still, Perdue, 70, is getting a late start on the job. "AFFI stands ready to work with the new secretary and others in the administration to provide millions of Americans with convenient access to nutritious, safe and affordable food", said the American Frozen Food Institute, based in McLean, Va., in a statement. "Secretary Perdue will play a critical role working on issues important to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, including the 2018 Farm Bill debate, immigration reform, research, trade, and nutrition". Since exports are a major source of USA farm income, producers are looking to Perdue to advocate for their needs in trade talks.

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In part to address that concern, the president is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday promoting agriculture and "rural prosperity", and will hold a roundtable discussion with some farmers at the White House. Senior Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer of NY and Dick Durbin of IL voted 'yes'.

Ken Wood, president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, added, "Secretary Perdue will do a great job advocating for farmers across the country, and we look forward to working with him over the next four years". Ben Sasse wrote in a letter to Perdue Tuesday. "I urge Mr. Perdue to help me educate folks in this body and the White House that the safety net is more than a talking point".

Sonny Perdue, with his wife Mary Perdue, takes the oath of office administered by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas in the U.S. Supreme Court Building, becoming the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump's nominee for US trade representative, and Alexander Acosta, nominated to head the Labor Department, still await confirmation.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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