Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cattlemen's groups praise Trump's USDA secretary pick

From the National Cattlemen's Beef Association:
Tracy Brunner, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in support of President-elect Trump’s nomination of former Gov. Sonny Perdue to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

“Governor Perdue’s an excellent pick to head the Agriculture Department. As a lifelong agri-businessman and veterinarian, as well as the two-term governor of a state where agriculture’s the largest industry, Gov. Perdue has a unique and expert understanding of both the business and scientific sides of agriculture. In a time of increasing regulations and a growing governmental footprint, we have no doubt that Gov. Perdue will step in and stand up for rural America so that we can continue to do what we do best – provide the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.”

In addition, Kyle Gillooly, a seedstock cattle farmer in Wadley, Ga., and president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, released the following statement:

“The Georgia Cattlemen's Association is excited to hear the selection of Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the USDA. Governor Perdue has always been a strong supporter of agriculture. His background in agribusiness and as a veterinarian will bring a wealth of knowledge and real-world common sense to a department that is vitally important to the success of our nation. As a graduate of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, he understands the issues we face in the livestock industry and he is a true believer in the land grant university system, their mission, and how they impact the cattle industry across the nation. His experience leading the State of Georgia, with its large agriculture heritage, will be invaluable to the Trump Administration.”
However, Friends of the Earth isn't so positive.
Donald Trump has nominated Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture. Perdue served as Georgia’s governor from 2003-2011. He currently serves as CEO of Purdue Partners, a global trading company that specializes in exports of U.S. agricultural commodities.

As governor, Perdue supported major expansions of factory-farm poultry operations in Georgia and mocked the role of climate in causing extreme weather events affecting farmers. Instead of taking climate change seriously, the governor organized a public vigil to pray for rain.

Friends of the Earth Deputy Director of Food and Technology Kari Hamerschlag issued the following response:
Rather than draining the swamp, Trump’s pick of Perdue to run the USDA puts a career politician and agribusiness CEO in charge of running one of the nation’s largest agencies. Given Perdue’s position with a global agribusiness trading company and his actions as governor, we are concerned that Perdue will use his position at the USDA to prioritize the profits of big agribusiness and trade over the interests of American farmers, workers and consumers.

Farmers are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather events caused by climate change. This year was the hottest on record and farmers need a champion in the USDA who will fight for conservation programs to help farmers be more resilient in the face of extreme weather, not pray for rain.

While trade is important, we need a leader at the USDA who understands the importance of growing stronger local agricultural economies. The USDA Secretary must focus on creating good jobs in rural America by supporting independent family farmers and ranchers who are working hard to meet U.S. consumers’ demand for healthier, cleaner food that is grown without the use of synthetic hormones, routine antibiotics, GMOs or toxic pesticides.

With the appointment of Sonny Perdue, Trump has created a cabinet with almost no racial or gender diversity. Of sixteen cabinet positions, Perdue is the twelfth white man to be appointed. Of note, Trump met with and rejected several Latino candidates for Secretary of Agriculture over the past month.
Some farm groups had voiced frustration that a USDA secretary had not yet been named. For more on this pick, check soon.

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