After much delay, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has been sworn in as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.
"The Farmers Roundtable provided the chance for the President to hear directly from the people on the front lines of American agriculture about what they are dealing with every day", Secretary Perdue said in a statement. "The Agriculture Committee received many letters in support of his nomination, including support from six former US secretaries of agriculture representing both Republican and Democratic presidents and another from almost 700 organizations across the agriculture and food value chain".
Soon after the swearing-in was over, or maybe even before, ringing endorsements of Perdue taking the helm of the USDA came in.
Perdue says he is encouraged by recent developments with Mexico and Canada that should lead to renegotiating the 23-year-old NAFTA deal. There are still more than 200 political appointments at USDA that have yet to be made.
The roundtable consisted of 14 members of America's agricultural community, including Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Hank Choate from Cement City, Missouri and Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"With the rapidly aging farm population and the future of rural economies at stake, now is a critical time for leadership", says National Young Farmers Coalition executive director and co-founder Lindsey Lusher Shute, who is herself a young farmer.
"We grow stuff very, very well".
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"You know the essence of the food stamp program was a temporary situation for someone who had lost their job temporarily, so there will probably be requirements to look for work or be working for work training", Perdue said.
Perdue's Senate hearing centered on USDA programs that cater to large-scale companies producing commodity crops. "So we certainly got the sense that he highly respects his secretary of agriculture, that he wants to be engaged himself as president and wants to make the rest of the federal government work for ag producers as well".
Rumors have floated around about possible candidates for deputy secretary of agriculture and other high up positions.
McCaskill is also backing the Community Broadband Act, which aims to improve internet access in rural communities by protecting the rights of localities - who often face significant cost and other barriers - to build municipal broadband networks.
"During the meeting it was clear the President understood the importance of a legal and reliable workforce to agriculture and is committed to ensuring a workable immigration system for agriculture", Northey said.
I'm venturing a guess that Perdue's influence was felt very quickly. "Also, he takes over at a critical time for agriculture, with work starting on a new farm bill and possibly on free trade agreements that would open new markets to U.S. pork and other agricultural products".