SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
The office of the Secretary of Agriculture is pretty much in charge of the more-widely known, USDA. That is, the United States Department of Agriculture, being formed in 1862. The parallel title in other countries would be the Minister of Agriculture.
The Department of Agriculture is the umbrella of many organizations: the United States Forest Service, the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food Stamp Program, and the United States Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
The most recent secretary of the USDA is Georgia-born George Ervin Perdue III, aka “Sonny,” nominated and confirmed under the Donald Trump administration. The only person that voted against him was Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Sonny Perdue was born in 1946 to a farmer and a teacher, and is the first cousin of Georgia U.S. Senator, David Perdue. Though sharing the same name as the Perdue chicken farm brand, he has no known relation to the corporation founder family.
Educated at the University of Georgia, Sonny Perdue earned a veterinarian degree and eventually became a small business owner. For three years in the 1970s, he was in the Air Force, where he reached the rank of Captain prior to discharge.
He married his girlfriend of four years, Mary, and had four children. He also has fourteen grandchildren, and he and Mary have been foster parents. He is estimated to be worth around $6 million (per a 2006 disclosure).
Perdue was a Democrat up until 1998, whereas he flipped that year to become a Republican. He’s been a Republican since, though he serves on the council of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C.
Georgia had been a Democrat-ran state since the conclusion of the Civil War, and Sonny Perdue became its first Republican governor in 2003. He remained governor for eight years.
At a quick glance, Perdue seems to be on the up and up. After receiving about $25,000 in donations and gifts while running for governor, he banned anyone in office from receiving anymore gifts above the $25 mark. But this didn’t stop him from accepting one-third of a million dollars in agribusiness gifts during his governorship.
He also ceased wasteful government spending and brought into accountability all of the state’s assets and inventoried them. And he returned most political decision-making to the local level: county and city.
However, not all was good in Georgia. Under Perdue’s watch, the state remained near—or was at—the bottom of the country’s SAT score averages. Perdue created opportunities for charter and private schools, but history has shown religious schools usually don’t fare much better.
Georgia, being in the deep south where slavery was adored and cherished, so was also the 1956 Confederate X-styled flag adored and cherished.
However, in 2001, the old state flag was voted out by the citizens, and a new one was championed in temporarily—it was quite ugly and didn’t last long. A newer one was voted in two years later in 2003. This wasn’t without controversy, and many racists weren’t very happy about the change, the “battle cross” X being cast off the flag and into its grave.
In 2006, Perdue signed a law that made Georgia one of the toughest and unwelcoming to undocumented workers and their children. One can only guess the repercussions this had on workers in farms and orchards.
On another racial note, Sonny Perdue also claims that blacks voluntarily served profoundly in many manners for the Confederate Army against the American Union during the Civil War. Historians rebuked and mocked this idea, though there were a few that had served in the infantry, both through coercion and as volunteers.
In 2004, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was sued by Perdue to block regulations on gasoline. He ridiculed environmentalists, saying that climate change isn’t connected to current weather events, and said they were “disconnected from reality.”
But when Georgia had it’s worst drought in decades in 2007, Perdue felt it was rational to gather people together on the state capital’s steps and look to the skies in prayer to a god. His words were to “pray up a storm.” They almost did a rain dance that day, all 100 of them (the population in Georgia is about 10 million).
This is the guy in charge of our food security.
Delayed prayers—or perhaps the chance of reality—came in 2009, when the state was so flooded due to climate instability, Perdue declared a state of emergency in 17 of the state’s 159 counties.
During his governorship, Perdue had thirteen ethics complaints filed against him; this is excluding the land-ownership disclosure scandal (Oaky Woods). The State Ethics Commission ruled against him twice, fining the Baptist.
He’s also been accused of flying a helicopter in 2003 without a license.