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Inside Washington: Trump administration in transition

Speculation heightens of former Gov. Sonny Perdue in role of as secretary.

President-Elect Donald Trump has continued to name cabinet members this week. While the Secretary of USDA remains to be seen, he has nominated a Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of Commerce in addition to his picks for Secretary of Education, Secretary of Health and Human Service, and Secretary of Transportation.

Promises during the campaign, and to Trump’s agricultural advisory committee, were that someone from production agriculture would be named to the post. Many farmer members of the advisory committee expect Trump to keep that promise, but very few meetings have been held with any of those individuals.

Reports indicate it may be a few weeks before an agriculture secretary is named for the new administration. However, many members of his agriculture advisory team have been seen entering and leaving the Trump Tower.

Wednesday it was former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue – no relation to the chicken Perdues – who met with Trump for nearly two hours. He’s a veterinarian by training, but actually took his roots in farming to a different use when he and his brother-in-law built a grain elevator in his hometown in Georgia. He started out as a Democrat, but switched to the GOP in 1998 and was re-elected as a Republican.

He’s the former president of the Georgia and Southeastern Feed and Grain Assn. In a speech before the National Grain and Feed Association’s Country Grain and Elevator Meeting in 2011, he had strong comments about the need for Washington and all thru the land “to get back down to a functioning government and functioning society.”

“Everything I needed to know to be governor, I learned in the grain business,” Perdue shared.

The message he shared with the attendees that day was many of sound business principles he applied in his days of marketing grain and running an elevator translate into better government.

Since leaving office in 2011, Perdue has run a string of trucking, agriculture and logistics firms from his base in the town of Middle Georgia.

Other contenders for the post reportedly include Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Perdue’s former campaign manager, Nick Ayers, is now a top aide to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a central player in Trump’s transition team.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad met with Pence on Wednesday, leading to speculation that he could be under consideration for ambassador to China, given that Trump has praised his knowledge of trade, The Des Moines Register reported.

Current Rep. Tom Price has been elected for the Secretary of Health and Human Service which oversees the Food and Drug Administration in charge of food safety and nutrition labels. Price, a House member from Georgia, has served in the House of Representative since January 2005 with a focus on health care issues.

The nominee for Secretary of Transportation is no stranger to an Administration: Elaine Chao who served as Deputy Transportation Secretary under President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, will be tasked to find solutions for US infrastructure, including those important to agriculture transportation.

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