WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump intends to appoint former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to function agriculture secretary, in accordance with an individual conversant in the choice however not approved to talk publicly earlier than it’s introduced.
Perdue, 70, could be the primary Southerner to steer the Agriculture Division in additional than twenty years. He comes from the small metropolis of Bonaire in rural central Georgia, the place he constructed companies in grain buying and selling and trucking.
The agriculture secretary job is the final Cupboard place for which Trump hasn’t named a candidate.
Perdue will not be associated to or affiliated with the meals firm Perdue or Perdue Farms, the well-known poultry producer.
Agriculture secretaries are sometimes from the Midwest, the place corn and soybeans dominate the markets. U.S. farm coverage has lengthy been favorable to these crops, and congressional battles over large farm payments each 5 years typically divide alongside regional traces. Southerners have pushed for subsidy packages which can be extra favorable to rice and cotton, which could be costlier to develop.
The final three agriculture secretaries have been from Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska.
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse mentioned Thursday in a press release that he desires to speak to Perdue about “the distinctive pursuits of Midwest agriculture,” together with commerce and regulatory burdens.
“Nebraskans feed the world and our agriculture secretary wants to grasp what we convey to the desk,” Sasse mentioned.
Many farm-state lawmakers and agriculture teams grew involved as Trump approached his inauguration with out having named an agriculture secretary candidate. Earlier Thursday, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley tweeted that he was pissed off with the method.
“NEED Ag chief w filth below finger nails 4farmers,” he wrote.
Perdue started his political profession as a Democrat in Georgia’s state Legislature within the 1990s. Nevertheless it was after switching his allegiance to the Republican Occasion that Perdue made historical past.
In 2002, Perdue was elected the state’s first Republican governor because the finish of Reconstruction greater than 130 years earlier. Perdue’s victory over an incumbent Democrat accomplished Georgia’s shift to a solidly Republican state, ending generations of Democratic management of state authorities.
Regardless of the seismic political change, Perdue confirmed little curiosity in pushing huge packages or signature laws throughout his two phrases. As a substitute he centered on discovering methods to economize whereas enhancing customer support by state companies — resembling decreasing wait occasions for renewing driver’s licenses. He typically referred to himself as Georgia’s CEO.
“If I may select my legacy it might be the epithet that he made authorities work,” Perdue informed The Related Press in 2010 earlier than he left workplace. “That is actually what I’ve centered on. It isn’t some huge monument.”
Critics accused Perdue of failing to deal with a few of Georgia’s largest issues, resembling struggling public faculties.
Perdue did not rely solely on his enterprise acumen as governor. A religious Southern Baptist, he additionally discovered a spot for religion in his administration. In 2007, when a withering drought gripped Georgia and neighboring states, Perdue held a prayer rally in entrance of the state Capitol in Atlanta to wish publicly for rain.
It was additionally Perdue who introduced an finish to Georgia’s longstanding conflicts over a state flag that featured the Accomplice battle emblem. The controversial flag was changed by lawmakers below Perdue’s Democratic predecessor, however the brand new design proved unpopular. Perdue insisted Georgia voters ought to decide the flag. A referendum was held in 2004, although Southern heritage teams have been outraged that the choices didn’t embody the outdated flag with the Accomplice image.
Below Perdue’s watch, Georgia adopted robust new food-safety rules after a lethal U.S. salmonella outbreak was traced to Georgia-made peanut butter. He moved the state workplace that points water permits for irrigation and different agricultural makes use of from Atlanta to rural south Georgia, the place it might be nearer to farmers. And Perdue poured tens of millions of state into Go Fish, a program that aimed to lure bass fishing tournaments to the state.
The ex-governor, whose full identify is George Ervin Perdue III, grew up in central Georgia. He attended the College of Georgia, the place he performed soccer as a walk-on and earned his doctorate in veterinary medication. Following a stint within the Air Pressure, Perdue returned to Georgia and settled in Bonaire, a metropolis of about 14,000 folks.
Perdue already has household serving in Washington. His cousin, former Greenback Basic CEO David Perdue of Sea Island, Georgia, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014.