Ag Secretary Perdue talks trade and first-year accomplishments
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue addressed American Farm Bureau members on Jan. 8 during the closing session of their annual convention to discuss the importance of trade to U.S. farmers and the need for successful North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations. He also shared what the USDA has been working on during his first eight months in office.
“We know trade is a key to a successful agriculture sector,” Perdue said. “We have put a number of proposals on the table to modernize NAFTA, and critically for agriculture, to address key sectors left out of the original agreement – dairy and poultry tariffs in Canada. Now, we want to see our negotiating partners step up and engage so we can get the deal done. I have great faith in President Trump’s skills as a negotiator and that we will get a fair deal.”
Accomplishments the USDA has achieved during Perdue’s first eight months as secretary include: reopening the Chinese market to American beef, signing a protocol to allow exports of U.S. rice to China for the first time and easing European Union regulations on citrus exports. South Korea lifted its ban on imports of U.S. poultry, while Argentina has allowed American pork back into the country for the first time since 1992.
Perdue said the USDA has been rolling back excessive regulations following a directive from President Trump. He cited the Waters of the U.S. rule as an example of regulatory overreach negatively affecting farmers.
“You know, sometimes a mud puddle is just a mud puddle,” he said. “We don’t need the federal government coming in and regulating it.”
Perdue said the USDA has targeted 27 final rules for elimination that will save $56.15 million annually. Perdue asked farmers and ranchers to bring any onerous regulations to USDA’s attention by visiting www.usda.gov/ruralprosperity.
Perdue said a report recently presented to President Trump from the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which Perdue was assigned to lead on his first day in office last April, contains more than 100 practical, actionable recommendations for economic growth in five key areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technology and economic development. The report is what motivated Trump to sign executive orders addressing rural broadband access during the convention.
“One of the biggest reasons that we are the envy of the world is gathered right here in this room – the farmers of America. You feed this country and the world, with all of your labors every day,” Perdue said in closing his speech.