Confirmed with an 87-11 vote April 24 by the Senate, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue drew praise from the agriculture community as he prepares to lead a 180-day review of farm regulations.
“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,” Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy for United Fresh, said in a statement. “As Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue was a great friend to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry and we look forward to working with him once again to ensure all Americans have access to healthy, nutritious foods.”
The White House said in a press briefing that President Trump on April 25 will sign an executive order promoting agriculture and rural prosperity.
After being sworn in the morning of April 25, Perdue will participate later in a panel discussion on the agriculture economy that will include Maureen Torrey, co-owner of Torrey Farms, Elba, N.Y., and and A.G. Kawamura, former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance, said in a press briefing that President Trump will ask Agriculture Secretary Perdue to establish a task force that does a 180-day review of regulations, policies, legislation that unnecessarily hinders economic growth in the agricultural sector. Starling said the review will include the importance of reliable and legal farm labor workforce.
United Fresh board member Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms of Tipton, Ga., said in a statement that Perdue understands the fresh produce industry. “I’m confident that he’ll do everything he can to work with United Fresh and all of our industry to help us meet the many challenges and opportunities we have before us; his confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture is a great development for the entire fresh fruit and vegetable production chain.”
American Farm Bureau Federation president Zippy Duvall said in a statement that Perdue understands the importance of farm labor shortages, trade agreements and regulations have on farmers’ profitability. “There’s important work ahead for the secretary, and he’ll need to address these challenges against the backdrop of the biggest drop in farm prices and income we’ve seen in decades,” Duvall said in the statement. “We are confident he is the right man for the job at hand.”