Secretary Nominee Goes Before Ag Committee

USDA Secretary Nominee Sonny Perdue went before the Senate Agriculture Committee on March 23 in a confirmation hearing.

It was a mostly positive and bipartisan talk with few controversial questions raised.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is on the Ag Committee, she spoke to Purdue about the importance of renewable fuels and to choose someone understanding of agriculture's role in trade when deciding the undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture affairs.

Ernst also touched on rules from the EPA that some farmers view as over-regulation, "How will you collaborate with the EPA to ensure that their work is helping rather than hindering our farmers and ranchers."

Perdue responded by saying solutions starts with personal relationships, "I've taken the opportunity to visit with administrator Pruitt already regarding some of these issues. And I think, not only in the EPA, but in all agencies we develop silos that are unfortunate because, as you well know, many of our producers when our regulation is made in other places, whether it be labor or EPA or others, are the guys that get pushed off the boat. And my goal is to have an ongoing communications team identified with each of these agencies that may be, whether it's FDA, EPA, labor, OSHA, others. To identify the things that, maybe the unintended consequences of regulations. And to work together ahead of time, before those regulations are promulgated."

Perdue says they could then let other agencies know what the impact their rules would be to agriculture. He adds farmers are good stewards and they just want a fair shake in working with other agencies.

Perdue also got questions from other Senators from crop insurance and the Conservation Reserve Program to rural health care.

Breaking from the hearing, the Senate does not have a date for the confirmation vote. They noted that extra questions Senators and others have can be submitted for the next five business days.