U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reflects on his time at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Secretary Perdue has traveled to 47 of 50 states over the past year and a half. He makes note of progresses made throughout his incumbency.
“We’d love to have a farm bill, and I think we’ll get a farm bill before the end of the year. But, we’d love to have (had) one without an extension, as it expired September 30th. But, I think things are going well,” Perdue said.
Several titles need to be agreed upon, in order to pass a farm bill. One of the sticking points is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Perdue says current economic conditions indicate no need for “welfare to work” provisions.
“Now, we have more jobs available than people to fill them, a 3.7% unemployment, we don’t think it’s right to continue to allow people without a job, that are able to work to sit there and continue to be dependent upon the generosity and compassion of the American people,” Perdue said.
Perdue also sees growth on the trade front. He reflects on renewed and revamped agreements, while remaining optimistic about future revisions.
“I think the trade issues we’ve seen are coming together nicely, with the new agreement between Canada and Mexico, renewed agreement with South Korea and now serious conversations beginning with the European Union and Japan,” Perdue said. “We’re building out markets across the world. Hopefully China will then recognize that we’re serious about playing fair, and will discontinue some of the things they’ve been doing.
A lot of change have been made on the agricultural front.
Perdue talks about the potential relocation of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“There are about 139 expressions of interest from across the country, 34 different states. We’re delighted,” Perdue said. “I’m treating it like a business relocation. If we have a business and want to relocate 700 employees, we’re going out to different states and other institutions expressing interest, our land grant colleges and others. It would be a great federal workforce to have there, bringing a lot of bright, young people to their campuses and communities.”