U.S.: Trump picks Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to head the country's Department of Agriculture (USDA), receiving support from one of the largest produce grower associations.
Perdue, who was on Trump's agricultural advisory committee during his presidential campaign, has to be confirmed in the post by the Republican-led Senate. He is also the final traditional Cabinet department chief to be selected.
"From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face," Trump said in a statement.
The head of Western Growers, whose members provide around half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, welcomed the news, saying Perdue was a "consummate champion for agriculture".
"We support the nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture and congratulate him on gaining the confidence of President-elect Trump," said the group's president and CEO Tom Nassif.
"Over the course of Governor Perdue’s career, he has proven to be a consummate champion for agriculture and will undoubtedly serve our industry well in this capacity.
"We look forward to working with the Governor to develop and implement the public policy priorities of the fresh produce industry."
Nassif went on to say while the secretary's importance to agriculture was obvious, Governor Perdue will assume the role at a "particularly vital time as our country reengages in a discussion about the future of our immigration system."
"Reform is essential to the long-term viability of American agriculture, which is unique among industries that rely on foreign workers in that our labor needs cannot be met by domestic workers," he said.
"Foreign hands will harvest our crops, either here or abroad. It is our hope that once confirmed, Governor Perdue will be a relentless advocate for immigration reform that works for agriculture and will present our case to the president, other key cabinet members and members of Congress who will be engaged in future negotiations."
In addition, Nassif said Western Growers was confident the nominee would "continue the legacy of past secretaries" and drive forward other agricultural priorities in areas like trade, the farm bill, nutrition, research funding and the environment.
"On behalf of the nearly 2,500 Western Growers members who collectively grow more than half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, we congratulate Governor Perdue on his nomination as Secretary of Agriculture and wish him a speedy confirmation process," he said.
What do you think of Trump's choice of Ag Secretary? https://t.co/zkWeqVVIMI
— Fresh Fruit Portal (@FruitPortal) January 19, 2017