One of Tom Hensley’s first duties as chairman of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) was to introduce U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to attendees of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE).

Ordinarily, it isn’t necessarily the introductions at IPPE talks that make the news, but this one was worthy of a report in and of itself.

The Georgia connection

Hensley, who is also president of Georgia-based poultry company Fieldale Farms, was well aware of Perdue’s background. Before he was appointed as the agriculture secretary, he was the governor of Georgia. Before that, he worked for 12 years as a state senator.

It only seemed fitting that at an international expo in Georgia, a dignitary with Georgia roots would speak, and be introduced by a Georgia business leader.

Understanding agriculture

Hensley gave Perdue a glowing recommendation as the nation’s top agriculture official during the brief introduction.

“President Trump could not have selected a better person for secretary of agriculture than Georgia’s own Sonny Perdue,” Hensley said.

“First of all, he is not a lawyer,” he said, drawing plenty of laughter. (Nearly every other agriculture secretary in recent history – Tom Vilsack, Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman, Dan Glickman and Mike Espy – was a lawyer.)

Instead, Perdue’s chosen occupation aside from politics has a more direct relationship with those who grow America’s food.

“He’s a veterinarian who’s spent his entire life in and around agriculture,” said Hensley. “He understands that we can’t feed the millions of people on this earth [by] farming with a mule and a plow, and he also understands that American agriculture is by far the best in the world and, he will be our ambassador.”

But with 20 prior years of experience as an elected official, Perdue, according to Hensley, “knows politics” and “knows how to get things done.”

Perdue, who described Hensley as “a customer,” conveyed his understanding of agriculture and his ambitions to get things done during his IPPE speech on January 31. A separate report of Perdue’s talk appears on WATTAgNet.