More than 3 months after an official nomination by President Donald Trump, former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Secretary of Agriculture.
In his new role, Perdue’s first responsibility will be to work with Congress on developing a new 5-year farm bill, which covers policies related to everything from insurance for farmers to programs to feed low-income Americans. The current farm bill expires in 2018. Overall, Perdue will be responsible for all of the U.S.’s food and farm initiatives. There are currently more than 100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees under his direction.
Perdue’s late nomination back in January--in addition to the 3-month confirmation wait--has prompted some to say that all matters concerning rural farming and food safety in the U.S. are not a priority for President Trump. In fact, Perdue takes his seat as the Agriculture Secretary just as a 2018 draft budget includes a $4.7 billion spending cut for the USDA.
Perdue, 70 years old, grew up on a south Georgia dairy farm. He earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia. He served as Georgia’s governor from 2003 to 2011. Perdue has no association with the food company Perdue, nor with the poultry producer Perdue Farms.