Mr. President, the Senate will soon vote on the confirmation of Governor Sonny Perdue, the President's nominee for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
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.
Perdue faced few obstacles to confirmation - the vote was 87-11 - after a collegial confirmation hearing last month before the Senate Agriculture Committee, where some senators used their testimony time to raise questions about Trump's budget, which proposes deep cuts for the USDA. He also promised to reach out to Democrats.
"As agriculture secretary, the 70-year-old Perdue will oversee the country's food and farm programs, while managing a department with more than 100,000 employees".
Prior to serving as governor of Georgia from 2003-2011 as a Republican, Perdue was elected to represent his Middle Georgia district in the state Senate as a Democrat. I think this is further evidence that this President, Donald J. Trump, is building an outstanding Cabinet with which to change the direction of our country, to get this economy going, to put America back to work again, to re-engage internationally, and to develop a fair and level playing field with the rest of the world economically.
"I've known and worked with Sonny Perdue for many years and I know what a dedicated public servant he is", United Fresh Director Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tipton, GA, said after the vote.
The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday to lead the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA).
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Current farm policy expires next year.
Each of us in this Chamber represent farmers, ranchers, consumers, and other stakeholders in our states that are directly affected by decisions made by the Agriculture Secretary. Mr Trump has proposed a 21% cut in US Department of Agriculture (USDA) programmes and has harshly criticised some global trade deals, saying they have killed American jobs. Canada changed its policy on pricing domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, leading to lower prices for Canadian products that compete with US milk.
As tensions between the USA and Canada grow over the dairy trade dispute, the National Milk Producers Federation said Perdue's support of the export markets is critical.
Senator Bob Corker said, "As a farmer, an agribusiness owner, and a former governor, Secretary Perdue has decades of experience and understands the challenges facing American farmers", said Corker.
All this comes as Trump tries to crack down on illegal immigration to the United States, an issue that could leave many farms short-staffed due to their reliance on foreign - and sometimes, undocumented - workers.
The nomination makes Perdue the first University of Georgia alumnus to be named to the White House cabinet, according to a University of Georgia press release.