According to US reports, two senior transition officials in Donald Trump’s team said on Wednesday 18 January that the President-elect would name Sonny Perdue as his nominee for Agriculture Secretary.
The appointment is not official, but US meat industry figures have their support for the Democrat-turned-Republican.
“Governor Perdue has a strong record as two-term chief executive of Georgia and is acquainted with a wide array of agriculture commodities, from chicken and peanuts to cotton and timber,” said president of the National Chicken Council Mike Brown.
“As a veterinarian, agribusiness owner and a governor who established an agricultural advisory committee in Georgia, he understands and appreciates the importance of American agriculture, both here and abroad. He is a welcomed choice from the ‘Broiler Belt’.”
Before serving two terms as Georgia governor between 2003 and 2011, Perdue had a heavily agricultural background: he grew up on a farm and later earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia.
If picked, Perdue will be the last person joining Donald Trump’s business-heavy cabinet. It also means not a single Latino will be in the president’s closest political circle. This will mark the first time since 1988 that someone from America’s largest minority demographic will not be in the US Cabinet.
This, though, clearly is not a major concern for the meat industry as the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) president, Tracy Brunner, labelled Perdue an “excellent pick”.
Standing up for rural America
Brunner said that in a time of rising regulation in the meat industry, Perdue will “step in and stand up for rural America”.
Agriculture is also the largest industry in Georgia, according to the NCBA, and with over 42,000 farms, many with a strong beef focus, Perdue should have a strong grasp of the key issues facing US agriculture.
Kyle Gillooly, a cattle farmer in Wadley, Georgia, and current president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association said Perdue’s experience here would be “invaluable” to the Trump administration and the US livestock sector.
“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,” said Gillooly.
“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.”
If picked, Perdue will head up a department with an annual budget of $140bn and more than 100,000 staff. It is one of the largest federal departments in the US government.
Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States in Washington on Friday 20 January.