(Commentary; Sourced and Quoted)
The former Georgia Governor has officially been confirmed to the position by the Senate on Monday, filling the vacancy left by former Ag Sec. Tom Vilsack. Perdue according to the Washington Post has garnered support from Farm Bureau and the National Restaurant Association.
With large budget cuts for the department proposed by President Trump, is this perhaps a purposeful hamstring of Perdue before he even has the opportunity to fail or succeed? (Or a convenient scapegoat being set for when he does fail?)Unfortunately the reality of the situation also includes the fact that active farm policy legislation will also expire this year. Does that mean a triage budget and policy set in a similar way to the national budget? If it’s scientifically based and not a good ‘ol boy benefits package to support the surplus commodity markets, sure! Following his appointment, Perdue didn’t dive right in to shaking hands and touring America’s heartland. It will be skeptically awaited to see if he represents the true interests of all farmers or just those who’s markets benefit his cronies.
The Associated Press reports:
“Perdue will take office as farm prices have been down for several years in a row and some parts of the industry, including cotton and dairy farmers, say they need the department and Congress to rewrite agricultural policy to help revive their business.
This is questionable at best, and far from any different than the auto industry or petrol companies expecting the same. If there is such a misunderstanding of supply & demand concepts that cannot and should NOT be fixed with policy changes. Diversification is correct and sustainable business answer. Continuing to prop up these markets and producers is a short-term band-aid that an economic issue that will in the future become blood gush. Is it not questionable that our United States Department of Agriculture is having to purchase surplus product to alleviate the waste being created in these industries. Cotton in it’s own right is also moving towards being replaced in the manufacturing of many fabrics and clothing materials. Instead of promoting the continuation of arbitrarily growing these waning industries, why not integrate policy that promotes innovation and diversification? Wouldn’t that naturally help with 3P sustainability?
Another concerning blemish on the new Secretary’s resume is surrounding his inclination to relax or reduce standards regarding food safety and health. It took Perdue four years and two scandals to implement better food safety rules for produce in Georgia.
“The two largest recalls of contaminated peanuts in U.S. history occurred in Georgia under Sonny Perdue’s watch, and are linked to at least nine deaths.” According to The Hill “In late 2008 and early 2009, as a result of salmonella contamination events at Peanut Corporation of America (PCA)’s Georgia plant, nine people died and at least 714 people (half of them children) fell ill. This contamination triggered the most extensive food recall in U.S. history up to that time, involving 46 states, more than 360 companies, and more than 3,900 different products.
It was only after this second major recall – and consumer deaths – that then-Governor Perdue agreed to more funding for a $24 million facility to test for pathogens in Georgia plants, according to Garrison’s testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.”
So not only does his administrative history include a subpar safety approach, but a disposition to let things reach detrimental levels before proposing action to remedy an issue. Instead it appears Perdue is also inclined to relax standards back to the status quo as he looks to do with school nutrition standards.
Sec. Perdue, if you please, let’s not regress on the positive changes we’ve begun making to influence greater health in our children. Let’s focus on making an impact, and heaven forbid leaving a legacy that doesn’t perpetuate the environmental and economic issues agriculture currently faces.