May 1, 2017, KANSAS CITY, MO: In his first public appearance outside of Washington D.C., since his Senate confirmation earlier this week, new U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was welcomedbymore than 450 enthusiastic Missouri and Kansas farmers, ranchers and agribusiness men and women at a town hall meeting at the American Royal on April 28. The event was hosted by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City.
Sec. Perdue said agriculture is the most productive sector of the U.S. economy, and although it is going through a difficult stretch at the moment he offered an optimistic outlook: “The sun is shining above the clouds.” As a footnote to his comments about being sworn in as secretary by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Sec. Perdue said his oath was also a pledge to do the best job he can. “What I do reflects on you and what you do reflects on me,” he told the farmers and ranchers. “Let’s be a family, do things right and feed everyone.”
Describing agriculture as a noble profession, Sec. Perdue went on to describe the pride he felt to be part of an occupation responsible “for the actual sustenance of the world.”
Then Sec. Purdue got down to business, succinctly stating his philosophy regarding agriculture: “Grow and trade it” – which is what everyone in the auditorium wanted to hear. He noted NAFTA has been good for American agriculture and industry, but the Trump administration intended to bargain for the best terms possible in all areas of the pact.
Sec. Perdue said he has been impressed with President Trump’s negotiations, referring to how the White House has walked back some of the earlier rhetoric about leaving NAFTA. Also, rolling back onerous regulation enacted in the last eight years will boost productivity. More interagency cooperation, which he intends to foster, will further stimulate the economy.
On hand for the event were many key agricultural and government leaders in Missouri and Kansas. Bob Petersen, executive director of the Agricultural Business Council briefed the secretary on the benefits agriculture provides to urban economies. Dignitaries included: U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), Missouri Lt. Governor Mike Parson, Missouri Department of Agriculture Chris Chinn and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey.
Senator Jerry Moran said there was no more important business sector in the U.S. economy than agriculture. But he may have summed up the proceedings before they even got underway when he said that politics for Sec. Perdue have always been personal. And he expected the new USDA secretary to run his agency with a personal touch.