Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 17

COURTESY USDA

LANCE CHEUNG

Bonaire, where he had to rise even
earlier in order to milk the cows. He
figures his Middle Georgia farm roots
prepared him well for his new post.
In choosing him to lead the
USDA, President Donald Trump said
of Perdue, "From growing up on a
farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole
life understanding and solving the
challenges our farmers face, and he
is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn
their living off the land."
During Perdue's Senate confirmation, Sen. Patrick
Leahy (D-Vermont) questioned the authenticity of his
farm upbringing, according to Perdue, who responded,
"Sen. Leahy, I can still taste that slimy Holstein tail slapping across my mouth on a cold January morning."
Perdue also has many positive memories of farm life.
"I also remember the benefits of going to that milk
tank and getting out a dipper of fresh, cold milk," he
recalls. "I feel so blessed that I grew up with the opportunity-although I didn't consider it opportunity at
the time-to accomplish meaningful, purposeful work.
By plowing a field or mowing a hayfield, you could see
your progress and your accomplishment throughout the
day. That made me goal-oriented and gave me a great
work ethic."

April 2018

COURTESY USDA

Top right: Perdue spent much of last year visiting farmers and
rural residents throughout the country to hear their concerns.
Here he visits the Delaware State Fair in July. Middle: Perdue
proves that "once a farmer, always a farmer" at the Mississippi
Valley Fair in August during his "Back to our Roots" RV listening
tour. Bottom: Perdue spends time with his grandchildren, from
left, Rabun, Thomas and Eleanor, before being sworn in as the
31st secretary of agriculture. He and his wife, Mary, enjoy
having their grandchildren visit them in the nation's capital.

Perdue worked as a farmer, Air Force
captain, veterinarian, state senator and governor prior to leading the USDA, a position he
never craved but may have been created for.
"It's amazing how God works in our
lives," he says, noting that before, when encouraged to seek national office, he'd reply,
"I'll run for that when they move the federal capital to
Atlanta."
But when tapped for the secretary of agriculture
position, a job that didn't require an election campaign,
he felt uniquely qualified for it.
"I never had any inkling I'd be sitting here, but-
and not wanting to sound hyperbolic-it's been exhilarating," Perdue says from his Washington, D.C., office.

On the job
Perdue has found that each aspect of the USDA
piques his interest, including food safety, nutrition,
research, education, forestry, farm programs and animal,
plant and health safety.
"The USDA is vast and broad, wide and deep, and
affects every American in some way and resonates internationally as well," he says. "It's absolutely fascinating
every day."
Of the objectives he's set for programs under the
USDA umbrella, his major goal as secretary is "simple
but ambitious": "I want the USDA to be known as the
most efficient, most effective and most customer-focused
agency in government by the time I leave."
To accomplish that, he's tackling major concerns of
the farm sector, including international trade and regulations. He says his USDA will work hard to promote
American agriculture's interests to international markets.
"Over 20 cents out of every farm-income dollar
depends on international trade," he says. "We're blessed
to have enough food in this country, but to continue
to enhance prosperity for our producers, we need to
expand ... and continue to go around the world and sell
this great production of our farmers and ranchers."
Likewise, he says he'll work to reduce regulations

More online at www.georgiamagazine.org

17


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 12
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 13
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 16
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 17
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 18
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 19
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 20
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 21
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 22
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 23
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 24
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 25
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 26
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 27
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 28
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 29
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 50
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover4
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