Sonny Perdue

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In the coming months, Congress will map out how it’ll spend upwards of $500 billion on food and farm programs over the next five years.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

Shoring up rural America’s economy must start with broadband access and technology, a federal task force says in a report released Monday.

The group, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and made up of other Cabinet members, says doing so will bring rural areas increased health care access, better job training, smart electrical grids and more precision farming technology. Little of that can be accomplished, the report says, without closing the broadband gap between urban and rural residents.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media/File photo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture faces a lawsuit that argues the federal agency must bring back a proposed rule that defined abusive practices by meatpacking companies.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

An event Monday planned to mark two Midwestern political appointees joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture was partly spoiled by a political dispute over biofuels.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue came to Omaha, Nebraska, to officially name Greg Ibach, who is the director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Bill Northey, the head of Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, as USDA undersecretaries. Perdue swore-in Ibach, but not Northey, whose confirmation is being blocked in the Senate.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

Farms and ranches throughout the country won’t see their labor shortages solved by a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a call with reporters while visiting Mexico ahead of the trade talks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said labor issues likely wouldn’t be addressed during formal negotiations among the United States, Mexico and Canada, set to begin August 16th.

JULIE DENESHA / Harvest Public Media

Sonny Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture at the end of April.

Harvest Public Media’s Peggy Lowe sat down with Perdue on his fourth day on the job at the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Missouri. She asked him about the Trump administration’s priorities for our food system, government nutrition programs, immigration policy and the future of the Agriculture Department.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Advocates for rural issues are up in arms after U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a plan that changes the position of a lieutenant that had been focused on rural issues in order to create one focused on trade.  

USDA is limited in its number of undersecretaries. Creating a position focused on trade, which the agriculture industry maintains is vital to its economic growth, may force Perdue to scrap a current mission area.

Julie Denesha

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday said President Trump may be open to creating a way for some undocumented immigrant workers to stay in the U.S. and Perdue is already working on a “blueprint” of policy guidelines to offer the president.

Refusing to call it a pathway to citizenship, Perdue says he would like to find a solution that would allow workers in the ag industry to remain in the U.S. legally. That’s despite Trump’s campaign promises to step up deportations of undocumented immigrants.

Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday explained President Donald Trump’s turn-around on the North American Free Trade Agreement as just part of the negotiations in his deal making.


The nation has a new agriculture secretary.

The U.S. Senate on Monday voted to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture. He takes over a department that was without a top boss for three months after former secretary Tom Vilsack resigned. Vilsack served the entire eight years of the Obama administration (one of the longest-serving agriculture secretaries in recent decades).