Sonny Perdue
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue at the International  Production & Processing Expo (IPPE).
ATLANTA – The morning following President Trump’s Jan 30 State of the Union, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed a group of meat and poultry industry professionals during the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta. Secretary Perdue commended the audience, “I believe you all have created a safe, strong and a proud industry. One that you should be proud of – as far as making protein affordable to the world.”

During his 30-minute long address, Perdue shared his thoughts about the role of the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), regulatory reform and trade issues in the United States.

“Our role as policy makers is to let you innovate, create and execute in a way that’s profitable to you,” he said. “Our goal at USDA is to create an environment where ag businesses can become safe, strong and proud of what we do, day in and day out.”

He told the audience that his goal for the USDA is to support the agriculture industry – to become a partner to meat and poultry processors. “Our vision for USDA – to partner with you to create that safe, strong and proud agricultural industry within the United states.”

Perdue echoed President Trump’s State of the Union discussions about trade. “He’s a tough negotiator when it comes to trade. We want a modernized free and fair trade NAFTA,” Perdue said. “Everybody’s got to come to the table. You can’t have free trade if our neighbors to the north keep us out of the poultry and dairy business. That’s not a free trade environment. We need to engage there and understand how we can have a free and fair trade both north and south and around the world.

“We’re going to continue to work to make our trade agreements strong, fair, balanced and free and work for this industry as well as other industries in agriculture across the country,” he added.

Perdue is confident that the US will be able to settle on a trade agreement that will benefit American companies as well as neighboring countries.

“I believe and hope that we’ll be able to resolve a good NAFTA negotiation. We know that Canada and Mexico are both great trading partners. I’m convinced we are moving toward a sound, modern NAFTA system that we can live with – that our partners can live with,” he said. “It’s frankly too important to all of us not to do that.”

Perdue commended the meat and poultry industry on its creativity and innovation. “I think the world is a better place because of the ingenuity and the creativeness and the innovation that the United States of America has produced. I think that this conference is proof of that.”

He promised to make the USDA an agency dedicated to the food and agriculture industry, as well as to the consumers the industries serve. “My goal at USDA is to be the most efficient, the most effective, the most customer focused agency in the federal government,” he said. “My goal is for USDA to be the Amazon of federal service...We want to make this agency work for the American people. Work for you the producers, but also work for the American consumer in a way that they can have confidence in the products they’re consuming.

“Our motto at USDA is ‘do right and feed everyone.’ We can’t do that alone – it takes you all to do right and feed everyone,” Perdue concluded. “So as an industry, if you do right we’re going to help you get your product around the world.”