The Trump Administration could finally have a Secretary of Agriculture in place as early as next week when it goes before the Senate, but following former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s final confirmation there will be a lot of catching up to do. There isn’t expected to be much of a challenge for Perdue, but Jon Doggett at the National Corn Growers Association says there are hundreds of other politically appointed positions that must then be filled.
“He will be one of the last if not the last cabinet secretary that will be confirmed, but the administration needs to name a deputy secretary, 7 under-secretaries, 2 assistant secretaries, and the list goes on and on,” Doggett said. “There’re about 15 positions at USDA that need to be named by the President and then confirmed by the Senate, and there is a total of about 240 USDA positions that are political positions that need to be named by the administration. Right now we have one, and that person has not yet been confirmed, so we’re way, way, way behind schedule.”
Will some of those appointments be from Indiana leadership? Some think so, so we’ll closely watch the dominoes fall.
The Perdue delay also has stalled talks concerning current farm bill programs and the next farm bill. Doggett says the sooner 2018 Farm Bill discussions get underway the better because negotiations could be the toughest for a farm bill yet.
“There is a lot of need out there and we are going to be going into this situation where the government doesn’t have much money,” he said. “The federal debt is about an extra $4 trillion by the time we get to this next farm bill than when we were starting off the last farm bill, so it’s going to be tough to get the money to do this bill right. Risk management is the thing we hear over and over again from our members, and that is they need the ability to manage risk. That will be crop insurance and that would be either the ARC program or PLC program or something like those kinds of programs to be available for growers.”
It remains to be seen how quickly the Trump Administration will move on filling out the Department of Agriculture roster once Perdue is confirmed. His confirmation hearing before the Senate is slated for April 24th.