It’s taken about 95 days into President Donald Trump’s administration to get an ag secretary in place, but that finally happened on Tuesday, with the swearing in of former Georgia Governor, Sonny Purdue. President and CEO of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, Larry Wooten:
“We’re sorry that it took almost 100 days to get a cabinet member in for the largest industry in the United States, but, certainly, we’re extremely glad that Secretary Purdue has been approved and sworn in, and hit the ground running.”
Wooten speculates on Purdue’s first actions as Ag Secretary:
“Well, he does have a lot of catch-up work to do. One of the important things, is you know, you don’t get all the under-secretaries, you don’t even reaching down to the state FSA directors…I would imagine that probably some of his first things is to get his people in place downstream in terms of under-secretaries, and state appointees, rural development directors, all those people that help get USDA programs out across the county. So, I would suspect that would be his first order of business.”
Wooten shared some of the process of filling those vacancies:
“You know, a lot of those appointments are appointed by him, they have to be recommended by some members of congress. Any secretary of agriculture isn’t just going to blatantly make a lot of appointments without running them through the members of congress and senators from those various districts.”
As far as which issues to address first, Wooten had these thoughts:
“Obviously, he’s very concerned about a lot of the issues, trade issues, particularly, that are coming out from the administration. Certainly having an ag voice on the trade issues, an ag voice on the immigration issue that’s so important to agriculture.
Secretary Purdue, coming from a very diverse agricultural state like Georgia, he understands those issues. He understands trade, he certainly understands the livestock issues being a veterinarian. He understands immigration issues, and so we look forward to working with him, I think for North Carolina, for the country, I understand he’s a very quick learner, and we just look forward to working with him, and wish him the very best as he begins his tenure as Secretary of Agriculture.”
The south, and the southeast in particular, are well represented at a national level, and Wooten says there might some advantage to that:
“Ray is over at the White House working with ag and rural issues there, along with Secretary Purdue, and certainly we feel like the southeastern United States is well represented. Certainly, the important part of that is that you don’t get any preference in terms of policies, but when you have people from the regions of the country where you are a large agricultural presence, they have an understanding of the issues, they have an understanding of the geography, they have an understanding of the people, and so that makes it a little easier from a point of understanding what the issues are, and how they impact agriculture, and the economy of this region.”
Larry Wooten, President & CEO of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation.