Arkansas Agriculture - Edition 44

Farm Bureau Perspective

Randy Veach 2017-02-07 02:46:56

Sunny Days Ahead for Agriculture New Secretary of Ag well grounded in the needs of southern farmers and ranchers The nomination, and expected confirmation, of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the next USDA Secretary of Agriculture should be celebrated by those involved in agriculture. I would suggest that Gov. Perdue is one of the most qualified people ever to be nominated as Secretary of Agriculture. Gov. Perdue served two terms (2003-2011) as Georgia’s governor – where agriculture is that state’s largest industry, like Arkansas. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and was an 11-year Georgia state senate member. He grew up on a small farm in central Georgia, earned a veterinary degree and has been involved for more than 40 years in grain merchandising, operating more than 3 million bushels of storage capacity at 11 locations across Georgia and South Carolina. I believe Gov. Perdue’s experience in agriculture will give him a clear understanding of important challenges such as commodity pricing, risk management, foreign trade and rural development, all hallmark issues for USDA. When trying to gauge the makeup of someone you don’t know, I often find it’s best to turn to someone you trust who knows that person well. In this case, I turn to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, who worked closely with Gov. Perdue when Zippy was president of the Georgia Farm Bureau. “Gov. Perdue will provide the strong voice that agriculture needs in this new administration,” Duvall said. “I have known him for years, and I have seen firsthand his commitment to the business of agriculture as we worked together on issues facing farmers and ranchers in our home state of Georgia. “He understands the challenges facing rural America, because that’s where he was born and raised. He is a businessman who recognizes the impact immigration reform, trade agreements and regulation have on a farmer’s bottom line and ability to stay in business from one season to the next. “When farmers and ranchers are free to access cutting-edge technologies, reach new markets and make decisions that protect their businesses and resources, we are all better off.” Gov. Perdue will bring to USDA a perspective on southern agriculture that hasn’t been seen in a number of years, having dealt with commodities that range from poultry and peanuts to cotton and timber. Poultry is big business in Georgia, larger even than it is in Arkansas (for right now!) as that state ranks No. 1 in broiler production in the country. He also has an understanding of the need for foreign trade and the ability of America’s farmers and ranchers to deliver products to much of the world. To do that, though, we must make continued investments in transportation infrastructure, including work on our inland waterways and deepwater ports. Gov. Perdue worked tirelessly to expand Georgia’s ports, understanding the economic engine the infrastructure provides. As a result of his work, the deep-water harbor in Savannah, Georgia, is our country’s fourth-largest port, behind only Los Angeles, New York City and Long Beach, California. Abraham Lincoln once referred to USDA as “The People’s Department,” a lofty ideal for the largest agency in the federal government. Agriculture is what binds rural America and shapes so much of our culture and heritage. There have been 30 secretaries of Agriculture since 1889, and only two previously lived and worked in agriculture as adults. Gov. Perdue would be the third. I hope you share my excitement over the arrival of a third-generation farmer as our country’s Secretary of Agriculture.

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