President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue met with 14 farmers and ranchers at the White House April 27th to discuss agriculture issues.
This select group of farmers included American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, former California Agriculture Secretary A.G Kawamura and Valerie Earley, the National FFA Central Region vice president. “I think they wanted a young farmer perspective on the panel,” Earley commented. “Around the table, we talked about big-picture issues like labor and immigration, trade, regulatory reform and infrastructure.” Earley says the White House meeting also focused agriculture’s next generation and what can be done to encourage young people to go into farming or a related career. It is believed this is the first time a diverse group of farmers met with a U.S. president this early in the administration since 1981 and President Reagan. “It was quite a day. I’m really thankful for the FFA jacket and the tradition behind it that allowed me to be in that room and learn so much,” Earley stated.
After the White House event for farmers, President Donald Trump signed an executive order providing regulatory reform for agriculture. “I’m directing Secretary Purdue to work with other members of my Cabinet to identify and eliminate unnecessary regulations that hurt our nation’s farmers and rural communities.” The executive order also creates an inter-agency task force on Agriculture and rural prosperity, which will be led by new Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. During the roundtable discussion with 14 agriculture leaders, Trump also criticized Canada for its trade policies.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts says the Agriculture sector needs an advocate now more than ever. “Our farmers and ranchers have been long waiting for this important role to be filled,” says Roberts. “I know Secretary Perdue will put the needs of U.S. farmers and ranchers, along with Rural America, first. And lead us in both the House and Senate to implement a productive trade policy and economic recovery in Rural America.” Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow backed Perdue’s confirmation, even while criticizing President Trump’s budget proposal. “For months, Rural America hasn’t had a voice in this administration. Frankly, it shows. President Trump’s budget proposal makes it clear Rural
America isn’t a top priority for his administration.
On Sonny Perdue’s first full day as Agriculture secretary, the former Georgia governor met with USDA employees. Perdue touted his experience as a farmer and explained what that means. “We as USDA want to be obstacle removers, not obstacle placers enabled to do that within the law and sound environmental policy.”
With Sonny Perdue in place as Agriculture Secretary, the speculation now centers on who will fill the other top jobs at USDA. Politico is reporting that Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is under consideration for the number two job at the Agriculture Department. Indiana farmer Kip Tom, who made an unsuccessful run for Congress, is also being rumored for a position in the administration.