Donald Trump has named former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Perdue was praised by Trump as being a “great, great farmer.” Trump said that Sonny Perdue was the candidate he kept thinking about, because of his farming and veterinary experience. Houston County native Sonny Perdue was raised on his father’s farm, earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia, earned the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force, and was a successful business owner. In 2002, after being a Democratic state senator for years before switching party affiliation, he was chosen by Georgia voters to be the state’s governor.
JUST IN: Gov. Sonny Perdue to be nominated as Agriculture Secretary.
Great news for agriculture and our farmers. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/AMz1lTj9fM
— Tennessee GOP (@TEN_GOP) January 19, 2017
Trump says he sees more good potential in Perdue than he saw in other candidates that he had considered. Other candidates that had been under consideration were former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, and former Texas A&M President Elsa Murano. Trump said that one unnamed candidate he had been asked to consider had no agriculture or farming experience at all, according to a report in The Telegraph.
According to a State of Georgia webpage, Gov. Perdue quickly cut wasteful spending and reformed the state budget. Under Sonny Perdue, the state’s budget deficit was transformed into a surplus, 200,000 new jobs were created and the state enjoyed the highest graduation rates and SAT scores in the state’s history. He was re-elected in 2006 by a reportedly overwhelming margin.
“As governor, Perdue focused on improving education, providing better access to health care, creating quality jobs for Georgians, and increasing resources for stronger, safer communities,” states his biography on the National Governors Association’s website. The Denver Post reports that Sonny Perdue was once a Democrat, but that he switched party affiliations a couple of years before his gubernatorial race.
Sonny Perdue’s father was a farmer who operated a diversified crop and dairy farm and his mother was a school teacher. Sonny served as a church leader, a foster parent for newborns awaiting adoption, a county planning and zoning board member, and a state senator. As a state senator his focus was on agriculture, transportation and economic development. As a governor, his focus was on eliminating interference by bureaucracy, attracting new businesses into the state, and fighting for ethics reform. According to Agriculture.com, Perdue is the managing partner of AGrowStar, a company that operated grain elevators. That report states that he also founded Houston Fertilizer and Grain Co. Inc. and Perdue Inc., a freight and warehousing company. Sonny Perdue has also served on the board of the National Grain and Feed Association.
Not everyone is pleased with Trumps choice of Sonny Perdue. On Facebook, New Hampshire Right to Know GMO wrote, ” If you thought Vilsack was bad, take a look at Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor.”
— DL (@mothergooseAZ) January 21, 2017
Food Policy Action also wrote about Sonny Perdue.
“Sonny Perdue’s record on food policy is dismaying. In addition to being an agribusiness exec focused on profits over health and safety, he is weak on oversight. Worse, he is a puppet for Big Ag and collected a quarter-million dollars in corporate welfare from the federal government for direct commodity payments.
“His food policy record is terribly light on substance and poor on action. While he is not the worst selection of the group of people Trump interviewed, he certainly leaves a lot to be desired for the good food movement.”
Scott Faber, of the Environmental Working Group, criticized Trumps choice, according to Agriculture.com.
“It’s certainly hard to imagine that a former fertilizer salesman will tackle the unregulated farm pollution that poisons our drinking water, turns Lake Erie green, and fouls the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico,” Faber reportedly said. Just last month, the Inquisitr reported that Ohio State researchers declared that farmers absolutely must take responsibility for the phosphorus discharge that is destroying fresh water supplies. Will Perdue address these issues? Environmentalists aren’t too hopeful.
Meanwhile, Agriculture.com clarified that EWG’s records show that Perdue collected $278,679 in commodity subsidies between 1995 and 2004, but that he hasn’t received any subsidies in over a decade.
The night before the inauguration, Trump spoke of his appointment of Sonny Perdue as Secretary of Agriculture.
“Today, as you know, we appointed a Secretary of Agriculture. He happens to be a farmer. He happens to be… Oh, there his is. Look at that man. Sonny Perdue,” Trump said. “He came into my office two months ago. Since then, I saw 10 people that everybody liked. Politically correct. And I kept thinking back to Sonny Perdue, a great, great farmer.”
[Featured Image by Jason Getz/Getty Images]