Trump nominates Sonny Perdue for Agriculture Secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former Georgia Gov. George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III – no relation to the Perdue poultry company – as his nominee for Secretary of Agriculture.

Sonny Perdue | U.S. Navy
Sonny Perdue | U.S. Navy

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former Georgia Gov. George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III – no relation to the Perdue poultry company – as his nominee for Secretary of Agriculture. The position was Trump’s last Cabinet selection to be made.

Perdue served as governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, becoming the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction. He was born in Georgia and lives in the small town of Bonaire.

In 1971, Perdue earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia and has worked as a veterinarian. He also served a state senator from 1991 to 2001. He switched party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1998.

As governor, Perdue’s main objectives were reforming state government and improving education.

Reaction from ag groups

Agriculture groups, including the National Chicken Council (NCC), the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) praised Trump’s choice.

“Governor Perdue has a strong record as two-term chief executive of Georgia and is acquainted with a wide array of agriculture commodities, from chicken and peanuts to cotton and timber,” NCC said in a statement. “As a veterinarian, agribusiness owner and a governor who established an agricultural advisory committee in Georgia, he understands and appreciates the importance of American agriculture both here and abroad. He is a welcomed choice from the ‘Broiler Belt.’”

The USAPEEC says it "enthusiastically supports" the nomination.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Perdue,” the USAPEEC said in a statement. “Georgia’s agricultural production is diverse, and we believe he has the understanding of the issues facing all of U.S. agriculture, and the vision to do the right things to advance its agenda.”

NPPC called the pick “very good for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

“NPPC believes Sonny Perdue will make a great secretary,” NPPC said in a statement. “He knows farming, he knows exports are vital to U.S. agriculture and he knows you need to run USDA like a business, not like the bureaucracy it’s been for the past eight years. We strongly support him, and we urge the Senate to confirm him as the 31st secretary of agriculture.”

The AFBF said it “strongly endorses” Perdue for the post.

“The nomination of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for Secretary of Agriculture is welcome news to the nation’s farmers and ranchers. Gov. Perdue will provide the strong voice that agriculture needs in the new administration. He is an outstanding nominee,” the AFBF said in a statement.

AFIA also said it is pleased with the pick.

"We believe Gov. Perdue's political and agriculture-related background make him a sound fit for the role. ... We look forward to working closely with the new agriculture secretary, assisting him and his staff on animal food-related topics, and how our industry relates to other agriculture sectors and to consumers. This will be particularly important as Congress, the administration and industry come together to draft and enact the new farm bill," AFIA said in a statement.

The NGFA called Trump’s pick “outstanding.”

“We believe Gov. Perdue will be a proactive advocate for U.S. agriculture in expanding mutually beneficial trade that is so essential to the future economic well-being of U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in all regions of the country, given the fact that 95 percent of consumers live outside our borders,” the NGFA said in a statement.

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