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"Turns out Sonny Perdue wants the USDA to continue promoting organic and local food, put in place a trade undersecretary and give school districts more power over decisions on students' meals. A review of 120 questions and answers for the record from 10 Senate Agriculture Committee members, obtained by POLITICO, show that the former Georgia governor: thinks the jury is still out on whether humans are causing climate change; will prioritize reducing paperwork and regulatory burdens and improving coordination with other agencies; and supports a big-tent approach to agriculture. But details were scarce on his plans for pending issues before the department, particularly GIPSA. So what did we take away from the questions and answers? Perdue never said ‘no’. While he would dodge questions or say that he has yet to be briefed on programs or issues, the nominee never once rejected a lawmaker’s question or stance. He did, however, respond with just a single word — “yes” — on 33 occasions, or about a fourth of the questions. Not everyone wants their Q&As out before the vote. Only 10 members of the committee supplied their questions — while three told MA they hadn’t submitted any. Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow both declined to make theirs available, preferring instead to have them released when the full record on Perdue is made public. The full Senate on April 24 is scheduled to vote on Perdue’s nomination. Trips to New York and Vermont are in his future. Perdue told Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that he would pay their states a visit if confirmed. Add that to the promises he made to visit Montana, South Dakota and Colorado during his confirmation hearing, and he will have a busy travel schedule to look forward to once taking office. Trump’s infrastructure bill could be the fix for proposed USDA cuts. Perdue’s plan to rely on President Donald Trump’s potential infrastructure overhaul to recoup cuts to USDA rural programs — which the White House outlined in its “skinny” budget — sticks out among the policy discussion. Perdue wasn’t part of budget negotiations, but has repeatedly promised to protect USDA where he can. Based on his answers, it seems part of that strategy is pushing issues like rural water system funding and broadband infrastructure as priorities."

Posted April 20th, 2017