David Wolfe, professor of horticulture, climate change expert and a Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Fellow, says while Sonny Perdue has the pedigree appropriate with the position of Secretary of Agriculture, the confirmation hearings must provide clarity on how influential he will be in providing a well-balanced, science-based viewpoint to the Trump administration.
“Perhaps the most important question for Perdue is one that will be difficult to determine from the confirmation hearings: how influential he will be in providing a well-balanced, science-based viewpoint to the Trump administration?
“Past statements by Perdue suggest that he is not comfortable with the highly politicized ‘climate change’ phrase, but he would be leading the Department of Agriculture when less predictable weather patterns call for new research and infrastructure that integrates weather station and satellite data, field monitoring and digital technology and advanced analytics for farm decision support.”
“He will be working with Congress as they formulate the 2018 Farm Bill, which funds the department’s diverse programs. It will be important that the confirmation hearings elucidate Perdue’s position on the safety net ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,’ which has often been a Republican target for cuts.
“Perdue signed strict legislation against illegal immigration while Governor, yet he is aware of the value and dependence of the agriculture sector on immigrant labor, and has publicly expressed a less xenophobic view than some of the Trump rhetoric.
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership was supported by many farmers as it could increase U.S. agriculture exports and annual farm income by billions of dollars. Perdue himself has at times promoted and been involved in international trade of U.S. farm goods.
“It will be important that the confirmation hearings clarify his position on these matters as well as on environmental regulations affecting food safety and water quality, funding for conservation incentive programs that benefit farmers while protecting natural resources.”
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