Wisconsin Farmers Weigh-In On Ag Secretary Pick

Trump Administration Picks Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue To Head USDA

Beth J. Harpaz/AP Photo

Wisconsin farmers say they’re cautiously optimistic about President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture.

This week, the Trump administration named Sonny Perdue as their pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the last cabinet position to be filled.

The former Georgia governor is a trained veterinarian and has owned several different agribusinesses.

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Given the differences between Wisconsin and Georgia, Darin Von Ruden from the Wisconsin Farmers Union said he’s not sure what to expect from the nominee.

“He’s from the South, so it might be hard to really understand what he’s going to work on or what his main issues will be,” said Von Ruden, who owns a dairy farm in Vernon County.

And Von Ruden said the new administration’s delay in naming an Ag Secretary doesn’t send a positive message to farmers.

“During the campaign and even since the Election Day there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to agricultural issues. So it’s going to be a wait and see attitude I guess,” Von Ruden said.

But Karen Gefvert from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau said she’s pleased with the new administration’s choice.

“Georgia just like Wisconsin has a variety of agricultural commodities and a really diverse agriculture. So we’re hoping that with that diversity and that knowledge, that bodes well for Wisconsin,” Gefvert said.

Many believe Trump’s presidential campaign was a success because of support he received from rural communities. And Gefvert said farmers and other rural citizens will be watching to see if the new president responds.

“One of the things that he will really need to show that rural base is that he has their best interest in mind,” Gefvert said. “I would think that that would hopefully be common sense to support farmers since they are the backbone of rural America.”

Both Gefvert and Von Ruden said they hope Perdue will improve price protections for dairy farmers.

We certainly need to take a look at whats going on with the dairy industry and federal milk marketing orders, the margin protection program which has been a complete failure, how can we address those issues and help all the dairy farmers in the state,” Von Ruden said.

And both farm organizations said they’re hopeful the Trump administration will create new opportunities for international trade.

“We know that the Trump administration has in the past come out as not being supportive or very critical of certain trade agreements,” Gefvert said. “As farmers and at the Farm Bureau, we have to continue to advocate for as opportunities for exports and for markets and for trade.”