Senate confirms UGA alumnus Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today voted with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate to confirm former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

After months without an agriculture secretary, Perdue will be sworn in early Tuesday.

Sen. Jon Tester endorsed Perdue on the Senate floor prior to the vote.

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to create a task force designed to promote agriculture and rural prosperity in America.

First District Congressman Roger Marahall commented on the Senate confirmation vote. "As Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue's agricultural business background and experience as governor will serve the US well", the trade group said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our long standing partnership with USDA and working with incoming officials to identify burdensome regulations and other barriers that make it hard for independent grocers to grow their businesses and ultimately create jobs in the communities they serve".

"The list of issues facing our industry is long, but we stand ready to work with Secretary Perdue and his staff to ensure USA cattle producers are provided a fair and competitive marketplace", says the United States Cattlemen's Association.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of NY also talked to Trump about the dairy issue last week in a rare phone call between the two men. He was a captain in the U.S. Air Force, and after that career, he became a successful small business owner, concentrating in agri-business and transportation, according to the Georgia state website.

Perdue has the wide backing of farming and agriculture groups in Georgia and beyond, and the only limited opposition was among some environmental groups. She said the Senate should reject his nomination. "We are excited and stand ready to partner with Secretary Perdue with a goal of getting programs and policies in place that will ensure our industry continues to contribute to the American economy". "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". USDA has gone for more than three years without an Under Secretary for Food Safety, a presidential appointment that is required by law. The 70-year-old will be the first Southerner to hold the position in more than two decades.

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