Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue speaking at AFBF convention 2018 Holly Spangler
Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue spoke Monday, Jan. 8 at the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention.

Perdue discusses wins for U.S. ag

Secretary of agriculture highlights regulatory rollback, interagency task force recommendations and getting focus back on farmers.

In his first eight months on the job, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the Administration has “already built a record of success” for those in rural America and plans to build on that record. In his remarks to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), Perdue shared his insights with the 4,000 attendees at this year’s meeting.

He said the Administration has been “rolling back excessive regulations that have been layered on” over the years, which garnered loud applause from the audience. Perdue said President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling for the elimination of two regulations before any new regulation is proposed. He said the Administration has actually cut out 22 regulations for every new one on the books.

One of the most noteworthy to agriculture is rescinding the waters of the U.S. rule. “Sometimes, a mud puddle is just a puddle,” Perdue said, adding that the government doesn’t need to “come in and regulate everything to death.”

As far as the U.S. Department of Agriculture goes, Perdue said the agency has identified 27 final rules that would save $56 million if eliminated. “We’re just getting started,” he said.

Perdue called on farmers and ranchers to bring attention to rules those in rural America deal with on a daily basis that may be harmful or impede their ability to farm. (For those interested in commenting on identifying regulatory reform initiatives, comment here).

On the day Trump swore Perdue into office, he tasked him with chairing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture & Rural Prosperity.

“As anyone knows how the President operates, when he signs an executive order, it is not an executive suggestion,” Perdue said. As the leader of the task force, Perdue said he took seriously the charge to formulate concrete solutions to improve rural America.

Perdue said the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture & Rural Prosperity identified more than 100 actions for the federal government to consider in order to achieve a vision of a better rural America. These actions include legislative, regulatory and policy changes and recommendations centered around these five areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technology and economic development.

Perdue said another improvement at USDA was a reoriented focus on producers. The newly focused Farm Production & Conservation (FPAC) area is the department's focal point for the nation's farmers and ranchers and includes the Risk Management Agency, Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Services.

He said the major changes help farmers interface with USDA and added that the “government should work for you rather than put up obstacles.”

Perdue also highlighted several trade wins seen over the past year, including rice and beef re-entering China, the European Union easing restrictions on citrus, South Korea lifting its ban on poultry and American pork back into Argentina and Vietnam trade regarding distillers grains.

Perdue added that he’s “looking forward to even more gains on trade.”

Congress writes the farm bill, however, and Perdue said USDA will be “right there providing whatever counsel Congress request or require.” He added that USDA will be unveiling its own farm bill principles to “use as a road map to guide them along the way.”

Perdue encouraged farmers to continuing telling their story. “Do not ever stop speaking up for American farmers. We’re no longer able to hide behind the gates of our farms and expect the world to tell the truth about what we do,” he said.

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