Sonny Perdue

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (left) was confirmed as the 31st Secretary of the US Dept. of Agriculture.

WASHINGTON – The US Senate confirmed former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the 31st Secretary of the US Dept. of Agriculture. Perdue’s confirmation received bipartisan support on a vote of 87-11. His cousin, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) voted “present.”

Stakeholders in the meat and poultry industry applauded Perdue’s confirmation.

“We welcome today’s confirmation of Sonny Perdue as the next Secretary of Agriculture,” Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said in a statement. “His experience as a farmer and veterinarian will be valuable in his new role as he works on behalf of US agriculture, a critically important sector of the US economy and responsible for feeding Americans and people around the world.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Perdue to ensure the safety of the nation’s meat and poultry supply, expand trade opportunities around the world and to address the challenges facing our industry.”

Born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia, Perdue, 70, brings decades of experience in agriculture and agribusiness to the USDA. He has worked as a farmer and a veterinarian. He also served as a state legislator before becoming the first Republican governor of Georgia in more than 135 years. Since leaving office as governor of Georgia, Perdue has owned and operated several agriculture-related businesses.

Philip Seng, president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said Perdue’s track record as governor and his recent testimony before the Senate “…leave no doubt that he understands the important role of international trade in enhancing the profitability of US livestock producers and the entire US supply chain.”

“This is a critical and rather uncertain time for agricultural trade, and USMEF is confident that Secretary Perdue will be a champion for US agriculture and will help the Trump administration build strong relationships with key trading partners,” Seng said.

The National Turkey Federation (NTF) noted Perdue’s background in family farming and knowledge of poultry and meat production gained through Perdue’s work as a veterinarian.

“NTF and its members are looking forward to his real-world approach to agriculture,” NTF said in a statement. “He understands that agriculture is the foundation of our nation and that, given a strong economic environment; America has an unmatched capacity to help feed a hungry world.”

Perdue’s agenda for the USDA was posted to the USDA website. His four guiding principles for the agency include:

  • Maximizing the ability of the agriculture and agribusiness sector “…to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor.”
  • Prioritizing customer service, because Americans “…will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.”
  • Serving in the critical role of ensuring food safety and food security.
  • Preserving land and resources that “…sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.  Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.”

Perdue has been married to Mary Ruff Perdue for 44 years and has four children and 14 grandchildren.  The Perdue’s also have been foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption. He remains a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot and avid outdoor sportsman.