The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee will begin a confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. Ag Secretary today.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is a member of the committee. “This is a very important confirmation for all of us across the Midwest because this confirmation will impact us greatly,” Ernst said during a news conference last Friday night.
President Trump announced in January that he wanted former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S.D.A. Perdue was the final member of Trump’s cabinet to be revealed. Midwestern supporters of Trump raised some concerns at the time. No member of Trump’s cabinet comes from the Midwest despite Trump’s election wins in Midwestern states like Iowa. Ernst said there are “big topics” Perdue will be asked to address during his confirmation hearing.
“Where is his support for renewable energy such as our biodiesel and corn ethanol?” Ernst asked rhetorically during the news conference. “Because that is really big for Iowans.”
Ernst also indicated she wants to ask Perdue how he may restructure the Conservation Reserve Program.
“We have a lot of farms out there that are being put the CRP, subsidized by the government. It’s productive land that should be out there. The CRP was originally supposed to protect vulnerable lands,” Ernst said. “…We also want to know that crop insurance is going to be available in the future for our farmers as well.”
Perdue’s confirmation hearing was delayed, in part, because it’s taken Perdue a while to unravel from his sizable business interests. Perdue, who served two terms as Georgia’s governor, has placed his assets in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest.
The 70-year-old Perdue briefly worked as a veterinarian before serving in the U.S. Air Force. After the military, he started four farm-related companies, but Sonny Perdue is not affiliated with Perdue Farms, the country’s fourth-largest chicken producer.