Perdue approved as secretary of agriculture

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"I want to congratulate Sonny Perdue on his long-overdue confirmation to Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture".

The former Georgia governor has broad support from agricultural interests, and enjoyed a friendly confirmation hearing before the senate agriculture committee.

Mr. Perdue, a Republican who grew up on a dairy farm and has managed agribusinesses, was confirmed in an 87-11 vote, garnering significant support from Democratic senators who saw him as an experienced manager who will maintain supports for US farmers navigating a crop-price slump. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said in a statement Monday.

Still, both Nelson and Hill said they are encouraging Perdue to hire Midwesterners, including people from their own states.

At the hearing, Mr Perdue said he would be a "tenacious advocate and fighter" for rural America when dealing with the White House and other agencies and noted a growing middle class around the world that is hungry for U.S. products.

Rural voters contributed mightily to Republican victories last fall, but for three months the department charged with overseeing farm programs and rural development, which has about 90,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $150 billion, has been waiting for a new leader.

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Democrats surely think so.

In part to address that concern, the president is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday promoting agriculture and "rural prosperity", and will hold a roundtable discussion with some farmers at the White House. But Perdue told senators he will work to balance those proposed cuts with the needs of small towns and farmers who rely on agriculture. Trump also proposed cuts to the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency. 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. David Perdue, R-Ga., voted present.

At the hearing, Perdue said, "Food is a noble thing to trade". With the country facing challenges and opportunities on issues requiring veterinary expertise, such as animal health, animal welfare and public health, having strong veterinary leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is more important than ever.

The White House hasn't said when Perdue will be sworn in, but he is scheduled to speak to USDA staff Tuesday morning.

"We are ready to partner with Secretary Perdue and the rest of the Administration to build a better farm economy", said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF). I also know that he really understands and appreciates the value of the fresh produce industry to this country.

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