Lawmakers in Washington voted 87 to 11 in favour of Perdue, who takes office as the agrifood sector grapples with key issues, including trade and immigration.
After Perdue’s confirmation on Monday 24 April, president and CEO of the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Philip Seng said the secretary understood the challenges facing the industry at a time of uncertainty.
“USMEF is pleased to see Secretary Perdue receive such strong, bipartisan support in the Senate, and we look forward to working with him to promote US red meat products worldwide,” said Seng in a statement.
“Secretary Perdue’s track record as [former Georgia] governor and his recent testimony before the Senate leave no doubt that he understands the important role of international trade in enhancing the profitability of US livestock producers and the entire US supply chain, and that he is very committed to expanding US exports.
“This is a critical and rather uncertain time for agricultural trade, and USMEF is confident that Secretary Perdue will be a champion for US agriculture and will help the Trump administration build strong relationships with key trading partners.”
Trade is seen as vital to the US farming sector, which has suffered due to falling grain prices. And Donald Trump’s exiting of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and expected renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada has hardly given the industry a sense of optimism.
‘Depressed farm economy’
Barry Carpenter, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), said he was looking forward to working with Perdue to “expand trade opportunities around the world and to address the challenges facing our industry”.
National Farmers’ Union president Roger Johnson added: “Perdue will need to work immediately to address the depressed farm economy, offering assistance to struggling farmers across the country… NFU urges Perdue to quickly review and approve the long-overdue Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which will provide farmers and ranchers with basic protections against anti-competitive practices.”
Prior to his confirmation, Perdue set out four broad goals for his tenure: to maximise farmers’ ability to produce agricultural products and jobs; set priorities on taxpayer spending; ensure the safety of the food supply chain; and protect America’s natural land resources.
Perdue is the second-to-last cabinet appointment for Donald Trump, who became President of the United States on 20 January 2017.