Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says U.S. Agriculture Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue has a good reputation within the ag industry.
“I don’t know him from personal contact before, but all that I’ve read and others (who) know him speak very highly of him and his agricultural experience,” Northey says. “So, I look forward to working with him.” Perdue comes from a Southern state — he’s the former governor of Georgia — so Northey is hoping the Midwest will be well represented in other top positions at U.S.D.A.
“I would hope that there’s a balance, at the end of the day,” Northey says. “There are a lot of other important positions there, and so I would hope that there are Midwest voices that would be in U.S.D.A.” This was the last cabinet post Trump had to fill. As the search for an ag secretary nominee dragged on,
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley suggested Northey should be considered for the top U.S.D.A post..”I had some conversations with some of the folks working on transition, but nothing formal at all. No interview around that position,” Northey says. But, Northey has indicated he would be open to working in the U.S.D.A., if the right position comes along. Grassley, who is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says he plans to talk with Perdue about drafting the next Farm Bill.
Grassley says many southern commodities faired well in the last Farm Bill. “You might say corn and soybeans didn’t do too bad, but on a basis of cost of production, rice and cotton and peanuts came out a lot better than corn and soybeans did,” Grassley says. Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack stepped down one week ago after nearly eight years as U.S. Ag Secretary. Grassley was hoping another Midwesterner would take his place, but Grassley says his concerns could be overcome during Perdue’s confirmation process.
“I’ve read a little bit about his agribusiness background and coming from a farm as a kid…I read about him being a veterinarian, so I guess I can’t accuse him of not knowing anything about agriculture,” Grassley says. Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa-based Renewable Fuels Association, says he’s concerned as no appointees in the Trump cabinet have openly backed ethanol or biodiesel. Iowa is the top producer in the U.S. of both of those products.
(Thanks Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag Network & Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio)