One day before President Trump took the Oath of Office he finally announced a Secretary of Agriculture nominee. It was the last Chief Cabinet position needing filled.
The ag sector has had a long two months of speculating on whom might get the position. Lists that included Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Nebraska agri-businessman, Charles Herbster, who chairs Trump’s Ag Advisory Committee have been floating around for some time.
In the end, Trump picked one of his first considerations, Georgia Gov. George “Sonny” Perdue.
“From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land,” Trump said in a statement.
Perdue was raised on a farm and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He served in the U.S. Air Force where he rose to the rank of Captain before discharge. He is also a businessman owning three small businesses. His political career involves elections wins on both Democrat and Republican tickets as he switched to the Republican Party in 1998. He has served as a State Senator and then served as Georgia’s governor for two terms from 2003 to 2011.
Since the appointment announcement Perdue has been backed by many in the ag industry, but he has also been scrutinized by more liberal leaning news outlets and interest groups. Specifically he was called out for taking a less than scientific approach to Georgia’s drought problems back in 2007 – when the then governor prayed for rain. On the steps of the state’s Capitol building he asked the people of Georgie to pray for their fellow farmers and the severe drought conditions by asking God for rain. It should be noted that prior to that he had put in place water restriction uses and other water conserving efforts.
Many in the ag industry seem content with the Trump pick.
In a statement the United States Cattlemen’s Association commended President-elect Trump on his long-awaited nomination of Secretary of Agriculture. “Sonny Perdue led a state with a $74-billion agricultural sector and a robust cattle industry, and we are confident that Mr. Perdue will serve as a strong leader for rural America. Given Mr. Perdue’s veterinary background, we know that we will have a strong advocate for issues related to animal health and welfare.”
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall also released a statement supporting Perdue, saying, “The nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture is welcome news to the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Gov. Perdue will provide the strong voice that agriculture needs in the new administration. He is an outstanding nominee.”
Now speculation turns to who will be the deputy Agriculture secretary. POLTICO reported three members of President Donald Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee will likely be top contenders.
First is Charles Herbster, the Nebraska cattle rancher who chairs the committee; second is Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture; and the third is A.G. Kawamura, a former California agriculture secretary from 2003-2010.