tv Sonny Perdue Answers Questions About Trade and Threats to Food Security CSPAN March 27, 2017 2:08pm-4:34pm EDT
leap on scientific research and related issues that impact americans virtually every day. throughout our nation's history, our farmers, ranchers and folks in rural america have survived drought, disease, floods, and tornadoes and fires and whatever else mother nature throws at them. year after year, they produced the safest most abundant food and fiber supply in the world, however today, growers from cross the country are facing high prices.
these strong producers need a strong market for their goods. the importance of trade for agriculture, our agriculture industry cannot be overstated. and if that was not enough, over the last previous years, farmers and ranchers and rural businesses have been burdened by regulations all across the federal government. i have heard time and time again as well as many members of this committee about the costly and hard to understand regulations that endanger the ability of our producers to stay in business. this committee will continue its efforts to make government a partner in their success and not an add veer sear and this committee has a lot of work to do including the re-authorization of the farm bill. we intend to do that work in a bipartisan fashion that has served us so well in the past.
in this respect, i want to thank the distinguished ranking member and former chairperson of this committee, the senator from michigan. now more than ever, agriculture needs a voice and advocate at the highest levels of government. and governor perdue has been nominated to serve in exactly that role. he is from georgia and spent his entire life in and around agriculture. the governor was raised on a farm and was a practicing vet before returning to his home county to work in the grain business. he was legitimated to serve in local and state government, including two terms as governor of georgia. while serving farmers throughout the southeast, he gained firsthand experience in transportation and the global commodities market. governor, the senate's role of advice and consent is an
important responsibility. and today is a key step in that process. we look forward to hearing your testimony and to asking you questions about how you view the role of agriculture secretary should you be confirmed. i would like to welcome his wife mary, his four children and their spouses and his 14 grandchildren. the governor is also joined by many of his friends and former staff from georgia. committee.you to the and i am especially glad to have our former ag committee chairman and senator from georgia, the honorable saxby chambliss and georgia congressman scott who serves on the agriculture committee -- pardon me, the sometimes powerful house agriculture committee to provide
introductions of our nominee and i see congressman sanford bishop here in the audience to support the nominee as well. but before we hear from senator chambliss and congressman scott, i want to turn things over to senator stab naw -- stabenow. senator stabenow: it is great to e moving forward on this mportant position. we know that you are proud of your grandpa and proud to have you here today. to senator chambliss, we worked on a lot of farm bills together and thank you for your service as chair and someone advocating for georgia.
it's great to see you. and we have a lot of work together with our colleagues in the house to get the next farm bill done. it's clear that agriculture and rural america need to have a seat at the table. we always do, but it's clear we need to make sure it is happening with this administration. looking back at our history, farmers are the foundation of the country. that's why president lincoln called the usda and called it the people's department because he understood that agriculture is the cornstone of our economy and the department had a special relationship with the people that served. america's farmers and ranchers grow the safest and affordable food supply in the world. food security is national security. because having a food secure nation makes our country safe.
our food and agriculture sector supports 16 million american jobs. usda's job to ensure we continue to make things and grow things in every state and that is celebrating the diversity of america's agriculture as well. michigan is the second most diverse agriculture state in the country and important usda is a ice for farmers in michigan, georgia. large and small, conventional and/or beganic, those who sell overseas, we need a voice for all of our farmers. and ag furnish secretary will need to look past regional divides and partisan pressures to support all farmers and families in rural communities. and right now, we need an advocate to stand up for them with this administration.
you sda not only helps a farmer weather storms, it also saves communities from wildfires in the west and make lakes and rivers safe for families to enjoy and ensure children have the healthy food they need to learn and grow to be healthy adults. rural america is the economic backbone of our country and too many rural towns are struggling to recover from the great recession. usda has made targeted vemplingts in rural economies and we are beginning to see these communities on the road to recovery, but we need to make sure these important investments continue to so we can keep moving forward. during the two months of the administration, it's clear that rural america has been an afterthought. president trump sent a message by waiting to the last minute to name his pick as agriculture
secretary. last week's budget proposal has made it clear that rural america is not a top priority for this administration. the proposal cuts usda funding by 21%. the third largest cut to any federal agency. in addition to eliminating critical rural development and international food aid programs, the administration has put a target on hundreds of critical programs that go to the appropriations process. in fact, under the budget, important resources for farmers and families are facing cuts averaging 33%. we need a secretary of agriculture who will advocate for the importance that usda provides. we need a sfrong voice to insist that the president listen to the 500 groups that are saying that agriculture, conservation, food assistance and other farm bill programs should not be cut
further after agreeing to a $23 billion cut in the last farm bill. we also need someone who will partner closely with congress, especially as we put together the next farm bill and look at other committee issues like immigration and trade that have tremendous impact on farmers and rural communities. in the 2014 farm bill, we made bipartisan reforms that saved taxpayers billions and protected the integrity of the farm and safety net. the budget office estimated that the current farm bill if we did no changes would save $80 billion more than initially projected in the next 10 years. largely driven by crop insurance costs going down and reduced spending on food assistance as the economy has improved. in this congress, we will be working hard to move another bipartisan farm bill. i'm excited for this challenge,
mr. chairman. with the usda leadership and all of our stakeholders, i know we can get it done. we worked together before on a comprehensive bill and do it again for the communities that we represent and for the entire country. especially during these times of low prices for agriculture and uncertainty around the budget, trade and immigration, we need the next secretary to be an unapologetic advocate for all of rural america and someone who will be tenacious like a georgian bulldog. we need a champion and i know you know that. today, i look forward to learning more about your views and qualifications to lead one of the most important departments in our federal government. thank you, mr. chairman. senator roberts: i thank the senator from michigan.
it is my privilege and pleasure now to recognize the distinguished former member of this committee, our colleague and friend, the honorable saxby chambliss. chamcham -- >> i'm honored to be before you today and i'm humble to be on this side of the dais but glad to be on this side for a number of reasons. but i'm particularly pleased to introduce my good friend, governor sonny perdue who is president trump's next nominee to be the secretary of agriculture. i spent 12 years of my life right here and when people ask me what do i miss in the senate and i'm quick to respond, what i miss are the good friends i made in my 20 years of congress and members of this committee are right at the top of the list and
both sides of the aisle. i'm truly pleased to be here. when i was sworn in as a member of the house of representatives in january of 1995, i was given the next to the last seat on that committee, which was made up of more than 50 members. the chairman of that committee was the gentleman from kansas, mr. roberts. and mr. chairman, you are probably the only person in the history of our country to chair both committees. and i'm going to steal your phrase, because i have heard you say it so often that sometimes powerful ag committee, but you are to be congratulated of having the honor of chairing both committees. governor perdue is no stranger to agriculture. sonny grew up on a farm in georgia. graduated from vet school at the university of georgia and after
a tour in the air force returned home to be actively engaged in row crop farming and the operation of very successful grain elevator businesses. when i was elected to congress, sonny was a constituent of mine and it was at that time in his life a member of the georgia state senate. the county is home of an air force base and we shared the interest of defense as well as agriculture in our respected positions and we began a dialogue that has lasted to this day. in 2002, sonny decided to run for governor of georgia and i decided to run for united states senate. and needless to say, we spent many hours campaigning over the next year prior to that election. and when you eat a lot of fried chicken and barbecue and ride a bus with somebody for a long period of time, i got to know
sonny well. that november, sonny was elected as the first republican governor in our state in 130 years. sonny has been a leader in everything he has been involved in doing. as a farmer, he was a leader in the field of agra business in our state. as a member of the state senate he was president pro tempore important of the senate and as governor he was chairman of the republican governors' association. when he was legitimated governor, he did what good leaders do and that is to surround himself with good people. he went out and found a very experienced c.e.o. and experienced c.f.o. he also improved the state's leadership by implementing a plan that he went out and found the very best qualified people to run our state agencies
irrespective of the political affiliation of those individuals. he committed to make georgia the best managed state in the nation and he received significant national recognition for his accomplishments. when he was elected, the state couldn't produce an audit and created the first state accounting office to focus on the timeliness and usefulness of financial information. technology and purchasing systems at the state level were old. under sonny's leadership, those systems were updated and the state purchasing system has received many awards for its efficiency and accountability. a new state data center was established and much of the appropriate technology was outsourced in order to stay current and technologically state of the art. we all know that technology at usda today is way behind the curve, it is inefficient and not farmer friendly. this will be a challenge to
sonny, but i'm confident that he will be up to that challenge. one of sonny's most significant initiatives was the customer service focus tore seek and treat citizens of our state as customers and create services that were faster, friendlier and easier. that reduced the time and proved the customary experience from everything to getting a driver's license to getting a tax refund and produced a cultural change as state employees bought in. such an effort at usda would be an improvement with the relationship with washington and its largest customers at usda, farmers and ranchers. this kind of executive experience in leadership combined with sonny's leadership of programs make him suited to be the next secretary of
agriculture. mr. chairman, i would urge this committee to approve his nomination and bring his confirmation to the vote on the floor of the senate as soon as possible. and i thank you. senator roberts: thank you for an excellent statement. it is my personal pleasure and privilege to introduce a member of the house agriculture committee, congressman david scott. david, we are delighted to have you here in the upper body. we won't go farther with that. please proceed, sir. mr. scott: chairman roberts, thank you for that. but i want to make one slight correction. when you said house agriculture as sometimes influential and
powerful. may we have an amendment to that so it will go out that the house agriculture committee has always been and will always be powerful and influential. senator roberts: i appreciate that correction. it was only one chairman that had the tenure. [laughter] mr. scott: touce, my friend. i will take that into consideration. i am greatly honored and very thankful to have this opportunity to come and stand with my dear friend, my long time friend, sonny perdue. i want to take a few minutes to share with you some things about sonny that you need to know. my good friend, senator saxby
chambliss went into great detail to share with you his immense qualifications, his education, the fact that he went to the university of georgia vet school, but i'm here to explain to you why sonny perdue is indeed the right person at the right time to do the absolute best job, the talents that i have shared and have witnessed with him in coming through georgia's state senate. you see, committee members, i was chairman of the senate rules committee in georgia for 10 years. my good friend sonny perdue was the president of the senate. i'm not saying that to shake a bell on our credentials here, but i think if you put that in
the context of the georgia legislature -- and i assure you that georgia legislature was one of the most exciting places to almost 40 days that went on for almost 80 days. now sonny and i had to meet every single day to work together to set the agenda, to determine what bills got on the floor in the house and the senate, sometimes night after night. and when we did that, we had to also sit with the governor and the speaker. and you talk about some fireworks, there were plenty in that georgia legislature. but you get to understand a person's temperment when you are on the battlefield with them, the courage, the decisiveness.
and sonny perdue was just such a person. and so on all of the major pieces of legislation that affected every georgian of every stripe, of every condition, sonny perdue had a degree integral part of that. and so i want to take just a few minutes, if i may, because what's important to me is to make sure that my friend, sonny perdue, becomes the secretary of agriculture very quickly, and hat he comes with his record unblemished. that's why i wanted you to know at the outset, ladies and gentlemen, sonny perdue and i worked into the midnight hours night after night. you get to know a person.
he and i were like brothers. and i'm grateful for that relationship. i want to take just a minute, though, to address an issue that i don't know may or may not come up, but i think i will be deer electricity in my duty if i did not set the record straight on the confederate battle flag business that has been in the air. i want to make sure that when you measure sonny perdue on that issue as well as all issues, that you measure sonny perdue right. now, let me just give the committee and the nation just a preview and a setting. first of all, sonny perdue and i came along at a very significant
time when georgia made one of its most historic moments in changing the confederate battle flag emblem from our state flag. it took time. it took experience, it took talent. and it also took, committee members, god's providence, his divine intervention at a very critical need when we needed it most. and because of leadership at that time. there were three governors. you can't just tell the story with just one governor. this has been an ongoing process . and it took education. it took commit mnlt, but the
people of georgia, black and hite, rose to that occasion. i want to just state that the first governor that had the courage to step forward to change that confederate battle flag was zell miller. one of your former colleagues here. that took courage and zell paid the price for that. but it's very important to know that it was the white leadership in georgia that stepped forward to lead that fight, took great risk to do so. then there was the second governor, governor roy barnes. and as i said, god puts the right people in the right place at the right time. and governor roy barnes, one of
the most courageous governors, a man of sterling strength, chose to do it. and he put forward the new flag. and he, too -- and let me tell you something, committee members, many of those senators, state senators and state representatives, when they stood up to vote for that, many knew that they were not coming back because they were defeated. we have to measure people correctly. and they built on the foundation that each one laid. nd then came sonny perdue. the flag issue was in his lap. it was on everybody's mind. so when you judge a person, you
have to judge them based on the circumstances that he was placed in. sonny perdue, let it be known, when he was elected governor, he put forward a referendum. it was a tremendous campaign. governor roy barnes lost the governorship for that. many members of the house and the senate lost their positions for that. and they deserve to be pointed out, respected for that. it paid the price and when came time that sonny was elected, he promised a referendum because the people of georgia, it was their decision to make. and u talk about bridges
achievement in a tough area, sonny perdue negotiated the compromise. and put together the referendum. nd gave the people a choice. and he put governor barnes' right there, which had a small emblem of the confederate battle flag on there. and then governor sonny perdue id a tremendously smart thing, he got agreement on another flag that did not have the battle flag emblem on it. nd he put that flag there with georgia's state seal, and he said people of georgia, choose which one. and you know what, chairman and
committee members? ht eople of georgia chose one flag that sonny perdue provided the leadership that did not have the small confederate lag that roy barnes had. and we didn't get to that point easily, but it was a great moment for the white and black people of georgia. and it could not have happened if we didn't have a person with the level headedness, with the brilliance and tactical maneuvering, the willingness to sit together democrats and republicans, urban and rural together to solve that and let the people solve it. i often refer to that experience
, chairman and committee members , i call to your reference three people. god chose three people to get us hrough to the promised land. jake could be, which was our zell miller because he had to go up and wrestle with this issue. and then came our moses, roy barnes, who provided the leadership right to it. but then we had our joshua that got us on to cross the jordan river. i urge t, mr. chairman, you with all speed and urgency to please confirm my good friend, a great georgian and a good american, a great american,
who will make one of the best secretaries of agriculture this nation has had, sonny perdue. thank you. senator roberts: congressman, thank you for that inspiring endorsement. i think anyone here who would like to be endorsed would welcome you to do that. that was very special. and i appreciate it very much. overnor. oh, i'm sorry. oh, pardon me. senator perdue would like to
have the opportunity to endorse governor perdue. senator roberts: you take all the time you want and you were waving your arms. >> as has been stated, governor perdue and i are first cousins and grew up together. we have a strong family, an extended family. i have known this man all my life and i can think of no one more qualified to be the next secretary of agriculture. you know representative scott and joshua calls us to be strong and courageous. i know this man to be strong and courageous and he will answer our questions and only thing i can say to him is good luck, ous. senator roberts: governor perdue, would you please raise
your right hand, sir. do you swear the testimony you are about to present is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? so help you god. do you agree if confirmed, you will appear before any dual constituted committee of congress if asked to appear. governor perdue: i will. senator roberts: please proceed with your testimony. , ernor perdue: good morning mr. chairman and ranking member. i'm proud to serve as the president's nominee to serve as the nation's 33rd secretary of agriculture. i thank both of my good friends, saxby chambliss and saved scott for their words of encouragement and inspiration to me as well, mr. chairman. and i want to thank sanford
bishop, whom we served in the state senate together as well for being here this morning. yourw from visiting you in offices, there was some anxiety whether there would be an agriculture nominee, i think the president must have saved the best for last. i thank each of you for you to meet individualy. and i hope and trust that our meetings will not be introductory ep he sodse but an opportunity to listen and learn. my goal is to answer your questions transparently. your satisfaction not only to earn your affirmative vote, but your trust and if you will afford me the opportunity, i will carry out this awesome job
with integrity complicit with the laws and policies set forth by congress and compassion with a golden rule hard. before i get started, i would like to introduce my family members who are with me here today. i'm accompanied by my wife mary. i had no idea when i married her she would be a prolific grandmother. and seated with mary are our four children and 14 grandchildren who are more familiar with being called big buddy and i'm pleased and humbled to have more than 30 of my former co-workers who labored side by side while serving the state of georgia and its people. senator roberts: governor -- we would like for your family and co-workers to stand, please. thank you all for being here. [applause]
governor perdue: you read my bio . i would like to tell you about myself. as a youngster growing up on a dairy farm in the middle of georgia, i never fully realized the blessings of purposeful meaningful work would serve me as well as they have in my life. feeding could yous and plowing the fields, i was part of the work force there. my mother was an english teacher, 42 years. senator roberts: governor, if you will cease for a moment and we'll take care of this problem.
please proceed. governor perdue: my mother was an english teacher for 42 years and i benefited from her teaching me. she made sure i knew about participles. i had a beautiful life with wonderful memories. i played little league baseball, training bird dogs and riding my horse trigger. as a youngster, i was determined and goal-oriented. i set my heart on becoming a vet having been influenced by dr. davis, who cared for our dairy herd. after high school i enrolled at the university of georgia where i played football for the university of georgia bulldogs. play is not the operative word,
but i was on the team. realizing my future wasn't on the football field, i studied. you may remember vietnam was roiling and i signed up for an early commission program in the united states air force. as i finished my education in 1971, i was assigned to columbus, ohio, where primary was public health and sanitation and food safety. as i completed my active duty commitment i joined a small vet practice in raleigh, north carolina. i realized even though the practice was thriving and i missed my farm and agricultural way of life. 1976, mary and i and two small girls moved back home to build a grain elevator in our county. my brother-in-law and partner
passed away after three years at the age of 43. i have been in business since 1977 founder and operator of three transportation firms serving farmers across the southeastern united states. farming and farmers have been my life. lived and breathed the ex lillings of a great crop and devastation of a drought. i learned by experience what my father told me as a child, if you take care of the land, it will take care of you. let's fast forward to my years as a public servant and i want to be clear, going up i was not a young boy who shook a president's hand at the age of 16 and inspired to on run for public office. i had no interest in elected politics. i did understand we have civic grants. so i agreed to chair a local planning and zoning commission.
an opening became open in the state senate. i initially declined but after a pre-planned vacation to williamsburg, virginia, i changed my mind having observed the founders' demonstration of citizen engagement. in 1990, the people of district 18 elected me to serve in the georgia state senate and i served there for 11 years and elected to be the president of the senate. from 1996 to 1998. you heard and interesting to note i served both as a democrat and republican in the georgia state senate. in 2002, i was elected the first republican governor of georgia and i assumed that office believing it was a big job, not just a position. our team worked diligently for eight years trying to make georgia the best managed state in the nation. as you remember, the period of
time from 2002 to 2011 were not the best of economic times in our nation. but we learned with a work force that we could continue to provide value to the citizens of georgia even in times of extreme budget pressures. even though georgia may not compare to some of your states in some agricultural sectors, our state number one economic driver is agriculture. in georgia, agriculture is one area where democrats and republicans consistently reached across the aisle and worked together. i'm pleased to know reaching the aisle is common practice in this committee where partisanship doesn't get in the way for good solutions for farmers, ranchers and consumers. if confirmed as the secretary of agriculture, i look forward to working with you, all of you. the makeup of this committee speaks to the size, reach and diversity and includes one guy that i watermelons lived side by
side. lifetime of experience in farming, i appreciate that the department of agriculture touches the libes of americans in many ways that go beyond just farming itself, including in a very small way improving the lives of the least of these. to continue that roll if i'm honored with senate confirmation, i will work to advance four primary goals. and each of these goals is focused on an important constituencyy. first, i will maximize the opportunity of the ability of men and women of america's agriculture to create jobs, to produce and sell the food and the fiber that feed and clothe the world and to reap the earned reward of their labor. we want to remove every obstacle and give them every opportunity to prosper. secondly, for the american taxpayers, our customers, i will prioritize customer service every day. they expect and have every right
to demand that we conduct the people's business efficiently, effectively and with the utmost integrity. and third, consumers expect a safe and secure supply and usda will serve in that critical role that the food we put on our table meets the strict safety standards to which we have established and accustomed. i will never forget we are the fortunate beneficiaries who put a premiums on smart stewardship protecting, preserving and entrusting us with those valuable resources, that's the basis of our fourth goal. the bounty comes from the land and those resources sustain 320 million americans and millions more around the globe. mr. chairman, thank you for your time this morning and rest assured, if confirmed i look
forward to working with the men and women who are committed to serving the people's department and i look forward to answering your questions. thank you very much. senator roberts: at this time, before we begin questioning, senator chambliss and congressman scott, if you would like to excuse yourself, please do so.
senator roberts: governor, i'll begin by saying our farmers and ranchers depend on strong relationships around the world. expanding market access and ensuring that our producers have a level playing field is absolutely critical to our rural economy. the u.s. department of agriculture and the office of u.s. trade representative have a history of working hand in hand to make sure that u.s. agriculture has an influential seat at the trade table. as this administration takes shape, i have been concerned there may be too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to trade and we want to make sure they are familiar with the main ingredients. the president established a new national trade council at the white house and increased trade responsibilities under the department of commerce. one of the best ways that the
department of agriculture can continue and strengthen its involvement in establishing a strong trade policies, how can we best work with the u.s. trade representative, the lead trade negotiator along with other individuals throughout the executive to make sure that agriculture is a top and i mean top priority? governor perdue: you are correct and as senator stabenow mentioned, department of agriculture needs a strong advocate. we are blessed in this nation to produce more than we can consume and we are grateful and implies that we need to sell bounty all around the world. the relationship between the usda and its trade representatives as well as the ustr as well as secretary of ross in commerce will be vital. those begin with relationships, personal relationships.
i have had conversations already in this pending time awaiting confirmation to discuss with mr. lighthouser and conversation with secretary ross over the great opportunities they have to use the bount of american agriculture to promote agricultural products and sell them around the world. building goodwill and the moral aspect to happen to feed that world. senator roberts: i thank you for your response. and let me advise members we will have a second round. members have other responsibilities and other committees are meeting. but we will have a second round. in preparation for the 2018 farm bill, this year, the committee has already started a process of listening to farmers and ranchers and other stakeholders. before we write any farm bill, the committee examines the program and determines what is
working and not working. we will continue the listening and learning process over the weeks and months to come as we craft the next farm bill and would appreciate your commitment to assist our committee during this entire process. can we expect support regarding our efforts on behalf of america's farmers and ranchers? governor perdue: i look forward with great interest to be involved with you all as you look to liberate and create the 2018 farm bill. i will commit to you if confirmed, the resources and research and to provide you the information you need to make good decisions. i value my own self as governor and being a fact-based, data-driven decisionmaker and it's important we take those things that have worked and things that have not worked and create a farm bill for the future in 2018. i know that you and the ranking
member are on the job and doing that in your respective states and listening to our producers across the country as well as our consumers. i will commit to you that you will have access to the resources in the department of agriculture and anything you need to the depth that you need if i'm allowed to be secretary to utilize those resources. there is great talent over there. we know the men and women have a great wealth and knowledge and career employees and have been doing this for years and has great opportunity to learn from them as well as our producers and the 2018 farm bill is the opportunity to meld the career people with what you all here in your own districts to ensure that the 2018 farm bill meets the needs of our producers, our consumers and the american taxpayers in 2018. senator roberts: thank you, governor. we have had the first hearing in
kansas, 600 people in attendance and that's what the building held and that's what the fire marshal said would stop. and pretty much all of them stayed. we had 21 good witnesses. and i'm going to michigan state. i will problemly will have to wear green and white. and may apologize for the 20-point victory -- senator stabenow: you can stop now. i wore purple for the chairman. and he is reminding me of something i would like to forget. senator roberts: maybe you could wear black or something. senator stabenow. senator stabenow: thank you, mr. chairman. m going to defer to former chairman, senator leahy, who has responsibilities in judiciary
committee. and he does need to leave. with your agreement, i'm going to defer to senator leahy. senator roberts: distinguished senator and father of a dairy compact is recognized. senator leahy: i wrote the organic farm bill, too. mr. chairman, thank you and senator stabenow, thank you for your usual and gracious courtesy. we all know how important the department of agriculture is in supporting our nation's farmers, our rural communities, our hungry and malnourished family as here and abroad. forest lands, consumers. they also advance innovation, research, energy, the environment, mounting climate crisis.
we have to address what is happening in climate change. the nearly doubling of acres burnt over the years and the government, you know that problem in georgia. if left unchecked in 10 years two out of every three dollars, just think of this, two out of every three dollars that we appropriate for the forest service will be spent on fire programs. of course there's also the loss of life. last year we lost a young vermonter. justin was killed while battling a fire in nevada. o we have to work on this. i would commend to you, as i did when we had our private meeting, the dedicated, competent, loyal federal employees.
a agriculture department employs many of them and they deserve your support. it is a time when they wondered what is happening with hiring freezes or cutbacks. you should spend time with them. now, i'm going to submit a number of questions for the record. but as i was reminded by the chair aman, i never would have thought of this otherwise, i should mention something about our dairy farmers. they are desperate for a new farm bill. but they're asking for some -- your support in developing much-needed risk management options for milk producers. dairy farmers cannot get left behind. you look at cotton farmers in georgia and arkansas who are given generous payment as, like the $300 million last year in the cottoninning cost sharing program. i think we have to have help for our dairy farmers.
i would hope that, as we've had direct support provided to cotton producers by the usda outside of the farm bill, i recommend or recommended by the usda for inclusion in the next farm bill. will you work on a proportional and immediate support for hardworking dairy farmers? mr. perdue: i will commit to you, as a son of a dairy farmer and having dairied myself, i understand the hard work seven days a week, 365 days a year that our farm families, itly smaller farm families, particularly in your area and other goes through. these are family operations. they don't take a holiday. they don't take a break. i understand the pain, the profitability of these farms for the milk prices are just not there. it puts many farm families under duress to do that. mr. leahy: i appreciate. that one of the problems they face too. they have a well-documented farm labor shortage.
the federal a temporary agriculture visa program, which winery y, the trump uses it. allows only for seasonal farm workers. we -- the senate had passed comprehensive immigration reform, which the house did not take up. they said even though it would have passed, it would violate the sacred rule. they have the dennis hastert rule. they didn't bring it up. but now we're having, with the operations of i.c.e. and others, i ask you to support finding a way to include dairy farmers, which require year-round labor. you can't have somebody come in for six months and say, ok, to the cows, i'll be back in six onths to milk you again.
you know that doesn't work very well. so we have sheep and goat herders that have that exemption. where you work -- will you work with us to find a way to have dairy farms, dare a farm workers in the same -- dairy farm workers in the same program goat and sheep herders are? mr. perdue: i will commit to you to certainly advise and counsel the administration over the need for an agricultural program for orkers that is year-round. as you indicated, cows can't be milked half a day. they're 365 days a year. i'm very well aware of that. there's a need. obviously many of our dairy workers are immigrant workers and while there are exemptions , i believe dairy
qualifies for that as well. mr. leahy: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, senator. >> the chair recognizes the distinguished senator from michigan, the senator. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. welcome again, governor perdue. we're glad to have this hearing. we need a secretary of agriculture. and we need to move forward a. i appreciate the fact that you understand the agency and agriculture and grew up in it. stabestabe and support thenition -- stab stab and support the mission of the -- stabstab and support the mission of the agency -- ms. stabenow: and support the mission of the agency. that's very important. you and i have talked about this. i know growing up on a dairy farm, you understand the challenges and certainly when we look at the last farm bills, chairman roberts and i worked very hard to expand crop insurance. we did expand it to special crops which we're already seeing has been very important with the weather challenges in michigan and other places. for our growers.
and to expand help for young and beginning farmers. but dairy farmers have not been able to qualify for crop insurance. as you and i talked about, yesterday, three national groups that speak for dairy farmers, both the american farm bureau, national farmers union, and the national milk producers, have suggested a way that the u.s. could d.a. could provide additional -- usda could provide additional risk management tools for dairy farmers in the short run because while we're putting together the farm bill, we have folks, family farmers in michigan, and across the country, that are in very, very difficult situations. i wonder if you are confirmed, if you'll commit to working with me and working with the industry and all of colleagues who care mive his, to used a
authority available to you, to provide our nation's dairy farmers with reliable risk management tools, including the crop insurance proposal that was put forward in the letter by the national organizations. mr. perdue: senator, i welcomed our meeting yesterday. i was intrigued by your suggestion of that. as i indicated to you, many of your colleagues have regretted the fact that the 14 farm bill -- 2014 farm bill rlt didn't meet to yurek -- really didn't meet to yurek pecktations for the dairy farmers, maybe the cotton program as well. as i indicated yesterday, i am absolutely committed to look for a way that can give immediate and temporary relief even prior to the 18 farm -- 2018 farm bill. if it's within the discretion of the secretary, if i am confirmed, and also we've got to be mindful obviously of budget periods as well. it's got to be within the parameters that meet the budget as well. but i think the ideas have been proposed, they're intriguing to me. i have no philosophical difference with those definitions that have been suggested.
and i would absolutely look forward to us providing a short and a long-term solution for the dairy and even the cotton program that may help really in the context and the formation of the 2018 farm bill. i think it would be great if we had some ideas that we believed could work, even prior to that time. ms. stabenow: thank you very much. i think we do have an opportunity. i really look forward to working with you. to achieve that. you mentioned the budget. i have to focus on the budget because i'm deeply concerned about the budget put forward by the administration. the signals in terms of lack of understanding, of agriculture. i've always said, to have an economy and have a middle class you've got to make things and grow things. it's clear the president has focused on making things. which i appreciate in michigan. but not growing things. which is equally important. and so when we look at it, 21% cut in the budget, it's extremely concerning. to me and to so many of us that
care about small towns and in fact i grew up in one of those small towns in northern michigan. so i'd like to just go through a series of questions quickly. just in terms of -- and get your -- just yes or no on whether or not you would support those things. do you think that small communities should have the same access to clean water as large cities? mr. perdue: of course. ms. stabenow: do you think it's important for individuals and small towns who live far away from a mealt center or a hospital to have access to telemedicine services in mr. perdue: as a product of a small community, i absolutely do. ms. stabenow: do you think it's important that fact -- farmers have access to the latest researchers and tools to make their farms more productive? mr. perdue: certainly. ms. stabenow: and do you think rural businesses should have access to capital? mr. perdue: certainly. ms. stabenow: do you believe organic farmers have a place in the farm economy? mr. perdue: i think consumers
across the country have democrat -- demonstrated. that i'm sorry senator leahy it to leave. ms. stabenow: do you think it's important to serve children and seniors in need of assistance? mr. perdue: yes, ma'am. ms. stabenow: i mention these because these are some of the areas that have been zeroed out or taken severe cuts in the budget, which are deeply concerning. if you just in the final moment here, if you could tell me first if you had any input in this process, of the budget, and secondly, how do you move forward, when we are looking at these cuts, how would you as secretary of agriculture address this to be able to meet the needs of rural america? mr. perdue: i think you're probably aware, without confirmation, and not being confirmed, i've had no input into the budget. obviously i think you probably saw it before i did. i also have some concern. obviously as a member of the administration i view this
budget similar to what was governor if i got a revenue estimate i didn't like as well. i didn't like it and -- but we managed to it. my goal -- i think you indicated the words in your opening statement that you want a secretary who can be a strong advocate and tenacious advocate. if i'm confirmed, i want to get under the boards and get some room and work for agriculture producers and consumers, to let this administration and any of the people there making those decisions in that budget area know what's important to america. i think the president understands that many of his votes came from the areas that you're mentioning and refer to. i hope in the context of a balanced or a budget that meets the objectives, that we can get agricultural share there. these are important programs. i recognize that. and i will do everything within my power, within the confines of
the administration, working there, to match what our desires are. i flip antly say sometimes i grew a $20 billion budget in georgia to $16 billion during that 2003 to 2011 period of time. not necessarily voluntary. but with the dedicated work of the civil work force in georgia, who really worked hard in those areas, we did do more with less. some of that has to do with the efficiency and effectiveness, which i look forward to engaging this usda federal work force in, and inspiring them that we can do more. obviously it takes some money and many of these areas. i promise to you i will be a strong and tenacious advocate for that. ms. stabenow: thank you. let me just stress again, agriculture has been doing more with less. that was our charge. we met it in the last farm bill. but the cuts we're talking about here will be really devastating
for farmers and small towns. thank you. mr. roberts: speaking of the budget. senator bozeman, you'll be recognized next. but first, we would like to hear from the chairman of the distinguished senate appropriations committee and the former chairman of this committee, and would remind everyone of that saying that herb knows -- everybody knows, that the president proposes and the congress disposes. conch conch thank you very much for your -- >> thank you very much for your kind remarks about me and my interest in agriculture. the obligation that we have as government to ensure the fair funding of important government helpams that in many cases
farmers when they are in desperate straits, with weather disasters and other challenges that come along from time to time. that really could put our country in very difficult economic situations. so i know you are familiar with most of the programs that are authorized by our committee and first recommended by our committee and passed and signed and nurtured by both houses of congress. you got a lot of people watching you and urging you to do this that. i'm confident in your leadership and your insights, your experiences, all to be brought to the challenge of the office of secretary of agriculture.
i'm confident that you're going to do a fine job and we look forward to working closely with you to identify problems when they arise and can be addressed in a positive way. to suit our country's interests. economic interests as well. thank you. mr. roberts: we thank the distinguished chairman. senator bozeman. bosebose thank you, mr. chairman -- mr. boozman: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, governor perdue, for your willing tons serve. getting to know you over lunch and getting to know more about you and your wife. you have a big job before you and yet you have a history of doing big jobs. so we do appreciate your willingness to throw your hat in the ring. arkansas, you know, is such that agriculture is its number one industry. around 25%.
it's interesting, when you look at the statistics, though, agriculture, farm income is gut ging to be cut from $124 billion to $62 billion. literally halfed. which is a real problem in much of our states. because much of our states are rural in nature. one of the things, though, that we can less than pressure is look for other markets. in arkansas cuba would be havea very important market. with rice production and various other things. poultry. can you talk a little bit about efforts that you would take in the sense -- not only cuba, but other markets throughout the world, so that we can have the attitude that we've got customers here. but very importantly, customers spread out all over the world. mr. perdue: certainly, senator. i think in respect specifically to cuba, for those of you on the gulf coast and those on the east coast, as well as even been
mentioned by your colleagues in the upper midwest, i think we would love to have cuba as a customer in many things. i lead an ag delegation from georgia to cuba as governor in 2010. and i found then, as much of the problem there regarding demand was the ability to pay and the ability to finance there, as much as anything. i think they would love to have our products and they are certainly appropriate customers for the rice that louisiana grows and for arkansas grows and other beans that are edible beans up in the upper midwest, that they grow. for that reason, i think if you all could see fit to look into the private financing operation, one of the things they mentioned to us is that they had to buy the -- by the restraints, they had to go through europe and have a haircut, financial haircut in that regard of being able to purchase the products.
i think we have the product, they need -- the product they need and they would like the product. the only thing is the financing part. certainly that would come under another area, not the usda, but i would support their efforts if we could get private financing. regarding other areas, certainly in central, south america, europe and southeast asia as well, new and developing markets there. and i hope that we can work very closely with trade representative lighthowser as well as secretary of commerce ross in order to put agriculture first in their repertoire of things to trade. i believe that we have the ability to produce a very efficient crop and product, food products as well as other products. things around the world that they need. i look forward.
that's certainly -- from visiting with all most of your colleagues, trade was right at the top of the list. i think when you talk to farmers around the globe, that's what they're most concerned about. we have a worldwide supply and demand issue that's weighing heavily on prices currently. and we're seeing some of the lowest prices in many years, it's putting a lot of pain out there, which is a direct result of the financial situation that you mentioned in your comments. farmers are really struggling to be profitable, hold on. many times even the best farmers are not able to produce a product even with the best production capabilities they may have. i think trade is really the answer. i look forward to being an advisor and a counsel to this administration, u.s. trade representative specifically about the benefit that we have of farm prahm products to sell around -- farm products to sell round the world. mr. boozman: that's excellent. financing is the key. we have a bill that says, not
government-backed, but if an individual or a private banker or whatever wants to do the financing, that they'll have the ability to do that. i'm running out of time. but do i want to comment. one of the things that i have real concern about, and i think the committee does, is you have the feeding programs in the schools. summer comes. and then you have a bunch of kids that don't benefit from that. what we're trying to do is get a smooth transition. if you would just affirm your recognition of the importance of that, those rules that govern, you know, that transition and stuff, going -- haven't been changed since the 1960's. if you could in five seconds -- mr. perdue: certainly. i was able to share with several of your colleagues who mentioned that privately in their office is i would love to facilitate that kind of transition, to make sure that those kids who are able to get meals while they're at school, are able to continue that through the summer time. and they don't fall into a
problem during that period of time. to keep kids healthy. mr. boozman: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, governor. mr. roberts: senator bennett. mr. benishek: thank you, mr. chairman -- mr. bennett: thank you, mr. chairman. congratulations to you on your nomination. i wasn't going to raise it but senator bozeman did. that's a bill he and i have together on school lunches. i'm glad to hear him raise it. i was going to raise trade. i'm so pleased with your answer. because as you know, commodity prices are just prices are just terrible right now. for all of our farmers and ranchers. throughout colorado, our rural communities, which really led the recovery for us coming out of this terrible recession, now face commodity prices that really challenge them as they're trying to -- as their inputs are igher and higher and higher.
there was so much negative talk during this presidential campaign, we're looking to you to help resurrect that with respect to agriculture in the united states. 80% of the wheat that we produce in colorado is exported. all of the growth for our dairy farmers is going to come from trade with countries, many of which wereries that were involved with the t.p.p. our potato growers in colorado need to have access to these markets. so knowing that you will be a zealous advocate for trade on behalf of our agricultural sector is eer in mousely important -- is enormously important to my state and if there's anything i can do to help you, help translate that to this administration, i will commit to do that. i also wanted to raise with you the issue of our national forests. a lot of people don't know that that comes within the department of agriculture. and you mentioned in your statement the importance of smart stewardship. one place where we have not had
smart stewardship is with the maintenance of our national forests. you and i discussed when you were in my office, last year we spent over 50%, i think it was 60% of the budget, the forest service budget, fighting fires. we've 2015 the colorado state forest service estimated around $834 -- 834 million dead standing trees in colorado. that's up 30% from 2008 estimates. i've said to my colleagues on this committee and other places in the senate, if you are down stream from colorado, which almost everybody is, you need to care about what's happening to head water waters of these rivers -- head waters of these rivers and that's forests that's managed by your folks if you are confirmed. will you please come to colorado and look at these forests firsthand? mr. perdue: i would look forward to. that i think i mentioned to you, i saw the ravages of that terrible fire over north of glenwood that occurred many
years ago with loss of life. i still see on those beautiful moup danes there that -- mountains there the effects of forest fire from years ago. absolutely i will come and look forward to visiting with you, as well as many of your western colleagues mention this as one f their primary areas. mr. bennet: every year secretary vilsack has tried to put something in the budget to end this process that we have, to make sure that either we treat these fires like every other disaster that we have, or that somehow we budget correctly so that we can do the mitigation on the front end, because what we're doing is we're spending the money in the most expensive, least logical way possible. i wonder if you've got a comment on that. mr. perdue: i certainly do. i've heard you all and your colleagues loud and clear over. that i also had an extensive conversation with secretary vilsack about the upside down
portion of the budget there in his continual having to borrow to manage those forest fires. or to help put out those forest fires. that's a bad way to do. as we talked about. on the front end, as you know, the healthy forests are helpful in preventing forest fires. whether it's the underbrush, the dead fall that we haven't been able to get to, using 2/3 of the budget to fight, we're upside down on that. we need to be doing at least 2/3 there of the budget in managing healthy forests in order to prevent forest fires. my goal would be to reverse that and i would love for you and your colleagues to consider looking at forest fires like we do many other natural disasters as well, to put a funding mechanism in there, where just like hurricanes orator nadse or other things, that are -- or tornadoes or other things, floods, would qualify for those types of funds. secretary vilsack was very
disheartened by the fact of having to come up with millions of dollars, many times from other parts of the budget, and borrowing there. it just didn't -- it was not very effective. mr. bennet: if you can break this, you'll be a hero in my state and probably some others as well. i look forward to having new colorado. mr. perdue: i look forward for us to break that. mr. bennet: let's do it. mr. chairman, thank you. ms. ernst: thank you, mr. chairman. governor perdue, thank you so much for being here today. i want to thank your lovely family for joining you as well. it's good to see everybody here. as some of my colleagues have already stated, the ago economy has really been in a down turn the last number of years. a lot of our producers are hurting. especially those young and beginning farmers that have just gotten their start really in the last 10 years. there was demand for commodities, driven by the renewable fuel standard.
and energy programs that were included in the farm bill. trade deals like nafta help to fuel both grain and meat exports, which are very vital to our producers' profitability. as we have seen so many times before, our farmers continue to innovate and find new ways to grow more food with fewer inputs and have not only met this new demand, but they've exceeded it. and done quite well. leaving to the slump -- leading to the slump in commodity prices we've been feeling so acutely. when i travel around the state, i engage in a 99-county tour. and i consistently hear how challenging it is to be a farmer or a rancher right now. due not only to the low prices, but also because of the onerous government regulations. i hope you're prepared to work with all of those who are engaged in our ag economy, to ensure it remains one of the strongest in feeding and fueling our growing world. whenever i do visit those
farmers and ranchers and others within the ag community, one of the common refrains that i hear is about federal regulations. especially from the e.p.a. how they're harming their operations and making their lives pretty difficult. whether it's their misguided wote us rule or the delays -- wote us -- wotus rule or delays, the e.p.a. seems to have an agenda against those in the agricultural community. how will you collaborate with the e.p.a. to ensure that their work is helping rather than hindering our farmers and ranchers? mr. perdue: thank you very much, senator. i think like many solutions, it begins with personal relationships. i've taken the opportunity to visit with administrator pruitt already regarding some of these issues. and i think not only in the e.p.a., but in all agencies we develop silos that are unfortunate because, as you well know, many of our producers when a regulation is made in other places, whether it be labor or
e.p.a. or others, our guys are the ones that get pushed off the boat. y goal is to have an ongoing communications team identified with each of these agencies that may be, whether it's f.d.a., e.p.a., labor, osha, others, to identify the things that would be -- maybe the unintended consequences of regulations. and to work together ahead of time before those regulations are promulgated, to give us an opportunity in representing usda , both agriculture producers and consumers, to let these other agencies know what the impact would be and what the cost-benefit reward would be to agriculture producers. so i think it becomes -- i'm a kind of face-had to-face sort of person -- face-to-face sort of person. i believe in going directly and communicating transparently about the needs and the desires there. i come from the part of the our farmersave seen
as good stewards. i think they want to be. if they have the right frools a conservation perspective, they want to care for the land. they're the ones that are make their living out there. i believe they want to do that. rather than prescriptive, onerous type regulations, geaths let's give them the ability to do that and incentivize them in a way where they can be even better than they've been in the past. but the progress that you indicated, that we've made over the last several years, with doing more cape -- more production with less inputs, precision agriculture, better use of water, and those kind of things, no till. all those sorts of things pervert -- preserving our soil, our producers have done a good job at that. they want just kind of a fair shake in being able to produce without the onerous prescriptive type of regular lyings that harm their ability to continue to perform -- regulations that harm their ability to continue to perform. ms. ernst: i support your
willingness to work with the other departments and the heads of those agencies. we simply can't operate in a vackual. dan p.:ing those -- vacuum. developing those relationships an keeping those relationships is very important. i think you're absolutely the right person to do that. i appreciate that very much. i also just want to make a comment too. i know that in the 2014 farm bill, congress really recognized the importance of trade. and congress directed the usda to establish an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs. i hope that you will take a look at that and make sure that we have the right person for that job established as well. thank you very much, governor. it's good to see you. thank you, mr. chairman mr. chair. mr. roberts: senator gillibrand. mrs. gillibrand: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, governor, for being here. thank you for our meeting that we had previously. i want to talk a little bit about immigration. it's been an issue, unfortunately a very toxic debate that's been harmful in our state. one area where it's particularly
harmful is in an cug -- is in agriculture. we relien immigrant labor. i hope you can speak to president trump and secretary kelly about the effects of intellectual gration enforcement policies that the president has announced and how tim pacts our agriculture sector. it's estimated that 50% of agriculture workers are immigrants. if we don't proper immigration reform and a debate about holistic policy, it is going to harm families in new york and it's going to harm agricultural workers at our farms throughout upstate new york and long island. so i ask, will you make a commitment that you will work toward making sure our farms have the workers they need? mr. perdue: i will certainly commit to you that, senator. particularly in your dairy industry in upstate new york and others. just as senator leahy mentioned. that's not a seasonal job. i think if you go into dairy barnes around the country, you're going to find most of the time those cows are being milked by immigrant labor. and i do plan to be a voice in
the administration to persuade policymakers there over this issue. i recognize that many of our producers, both seasonal types of crops that you mentioned, as well as dairy farms, have a good bit of anxiety about that. considering that. mrs. gillibrand: enormous anxiety. the other area you mentioned. our h-2-a spram a visa program to recruit temporary worker on a seasonal basis. cows need to be milked every day. so it doesn't work for us. it's very cumbersome. so i would also ask your commitment that you will work on that program specifically to streamline it and make it available for all agricultural workers. mr. perdue: i've heard that loud and clear from people close to me at home and our customers in georgia as well. you mentioned obviously your state. but i think virtually every state in the nation is affected by that to some degree. i think there are some things we can do with h-2-a. if i'm confirmed i will commit
to you that that and trade are two issues that we will begin post haste to work on. mrs. gillibrand: as you know, we're a very darey state. fourth producer in the country. i would love it if would you come to upstate new york and do a field hearing. i nouveau to go to colorado now. but could you please also come to upstate new york? we'd love to have a field hearing to talk about dairy pricing. because the dairy pricing system, as you know, has been so destabilizing. is not something that farmers can rely on. the insurance programs we have written are not working. so we really need to do a top to bottom reform of how we do dairy pricing in this country. and create insurance programs and products that can actually work for small dairies. particularly in places like upstate new york. mr. perdue: i'll come if you promise not to make me milk any more cows. mrs. gillibrand: no, you don't, i promise. mr. perdue: the volatility of prices, there's no business, not just agriculture, but there's no
business that can survive with a volatility of range of prices that dairy farmers have had to undergo the last few years. the prices they're currently experiencing are unprofitable. even the best family farms cannot survive under those. mrs. gillibrand: i agree. another issue very important to new york state is the snap program. it is so important that we have food for our families. some of the work this committee has done for making sure snap gets to rural families, using farmers markets, making sure that we can do summer yields, that kind of work. i would ask your commitment to focusing on how we can deliver more food to more families throughout this country as our ag secretary. mr. perdue: we hope we can do that even more efficiently and effectively than we have. it's certainly important to the children and the families of america to do that. i hope that we can work together to accomplish that. mrs. gillibrand: thank you. my last issue is funding and budgets. i was very concerned about the
president's budget and how it would take away access to water systems. we have so many unmet sewer needs in new york state. our rural water systems are in desperate need of investment. similarly, we have desperate need of investment for rural broadband. it's really important that we can get high speed internote all our rural areas. our farmers depend upon. it our small businesses depend upon it. the usda rural utility service program is really important. i'd like your commitment that will you continue to work with this committee, which has bipartisan support for those investments. mr. perdue: certainly. i'm hopeful obviously that the president's proposal over infrastructure will be recognized, the agriculture broadband issue. if we're going to keep kids on the farm in rural areas, if our rural areas are going to be able to thrive and survive like city does, with the density, we've got to have the connectivity. the just as important really now as sewer or water, clean water or other things, as the
connectivity to the world. that's what we're advocating, will advocate, continue to advocate. i know members of the usda have already been in a meeting with the white house infrastructure team over that. we will certainly promote that to the best of our ability. rs. gillibrand: thank you. mr. roberts: it's time for you, .ir >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's almost high noon. so it's time for me to ask questions. thank you, governor perdue, for taking this on. you're the right guy for the job. these are tough times in agriculture. we've got commodity prices and livestock prices below the cost of production. uncertainty about trade. concerns about disease. and two crop years left in terms of implementation of this farm bill. before we start writing a new one. i look forward to working with you on the next farm bill as well as continuing to implement this one. i know we don't have any problem
getting to you come to south dakota, as long as we still have pheasants in south dakota. so i expect you to be there. i have a number of questions i need covered quickly. if you could answer yes to all of them, that would be fine. in terms of the current farm bill, the past administration showed a lot of inflexibility with regard to administration. sthunethune in a number of areas -- mr. thune: in a number of areas. title one, the data that was used to calculate those payments. c.r.p. vegetative cover management practices. and equitable c.r.p. acreage distribution are were all things that -- where we don't think the past administration was following the intent of congress. so with two years left on that farm bill, will you be willing to work with me and my staff on these issues to make improvements in program administration, make sure those programs are operating in the way congress intended? mr. perdue: yes. mr. thune: thank you. i know you're aware of the recent tainted brazilian meat
scandal, which has resulted now in usda issuing a press release announcing additional steps that they're taking to ensure that our food supply is kept safe. none of the facilities implecamented -- simple -- implecailt -- implicated in that scandal have ship meats to the united states, according to the u.s.a. do you believe that accelerated testing of all the incoming shipments of raw meat from brazil will provide adequate protection, or should we begin to think about triggering dawes to impose an outright -- usda to impose an outright shutdown if there's unsafe meat? mr. perdue: i believe that the f.s.i. are n of the doing a wonderful job going to the 100% inspection there coming in. i'm concerned obviously, if we go to embargoing, where these plants were not shipping to the u.s., if we go to embargoing or putting a shutdown on there, there will be retaliation there for our products maybe around
the world as well. we already know that we've had some high path avian influenza and some countries have responded in that way. while that's very localized, i don't want to punish another country. but i do want the usda inspectors to be on the job with 100% type of inspection of any products coming into the united states. mr. thune: ok. we both come from states where we grow trees. the trees in south dakota grow a little slower than the tree does in your home state. in the last half decade, we've seen a rapid increase in mortality. it's up 53%. a decrease in grouth. down 69% in our state. unfortunately our state isn't unique. with over 82 million acres of national forest under stress from fires a, insects or both. i know senator bennett touched on this. can i get your commitment to focus on turning around the national forests and expanding the management that we need to
create jobs in healthy stands of timber? mr. perdue: absolutely you can have my commitment. i think that i view the united states forest service and our united states forests as challenges, opportunities clothed in challenges right now. i think there's real opportunity to make these forests health ylt. i do come from a state where it's mostly private ownership. my sense from visiting with many of you is that we have just not really been good neighbors in a lot of places. in taking care of the public stewardship portion of where many private landowners would. i look forward to leading and inspiring the united states fire service to take pride in the way they would care for it, just as if it was their own. mr. thune: thank you. i know this got touched on once already as well. agriculture of course helps build a strong u.s. economy. it's the number one industry in my state. i think it's critical to our national economy.
especially in our rural communities. the r.f.s. has been an essential driver of growth in rural areas of our country. the certainty of the policy has created jobs and spurred added research and investment. can you commit to ensuring that we'll have a strong r.f.s. to provide economic security for these rural communities? mr. perdue: i can do that. i'm happy to have also the president's commitment of his concern and interest in that area as well. absolutely can have that commitment. mr. thune: appreciate. that my time's expired. i thank you again for take -- i appreciate that. mayorga time's expired. i thank you again for taking this on. mr. roberts: i thank the senator. i know he has a date at high noon. so you can excuse yourself at any time. hike hike thank you -- high high thank you. i thank my -- ms. high camp: thank you.
governor perdue, welcome. welcome to your beautiful family. what legacy you leave. i think there's someone who looks a whole lot like you back there. you used to be a lot more hand some when you were younger, i think -- handsome when you were younger, i think. mr. perdue: it was first human cloning there, i think. >> it's pretty remarkable. i was checking it out. i was thinking, wow. well. ou used to be very handsome. [laughter] i want to associate myself with the remarks of senator thune who talked about the importance to really have flexibility as we implement the next farm bill. we saw some great flexibility, but then we ran into some road blocks. i appreciate your commitment. i also know that you kind of had me when we were visiting, when you entered my office and you said three words. trade, trade, trade. height height i knew -- ms. heitkamp: i knew that a you and i were on the same wave length. that is a exrit cal component.
-- critical component. my concern is, what we're seeing out of the white house and the budget doesn't seem to be pro-rural or pro-agriculture. we need you to be an absolute voracious and active fighter on behalf of rural america. had that white house and other -- in that white house and other agencies. can you commit to doing that? mr. perdue: agriculture's in my heart. i look forward to fighting for the producers of america, just because, as i said that, we know how vital it is. i will absolutely be a tenacious advocate and fighter where necessary to do that. height height i hope that you will engage -- ms. heitkamp: i hope that you will engage us. we're a very bipartisan, collaborative committee. we all represent agricultural states, but we also know how vital, as senator thune said, how vital agriculture is to our national economy. a couple unique north dakota issues. we have a lot of prairie pot holes. it's part of what we do in terms
of the resource and it provides some -- for some great duck hunting and geese hunting. but we have a lot of farmers who would like an opportunity to farm their land and not just raise ducks. i think one of the problems that we have is not only running into maybe an attitude sometimes that the wetland is more important than the farmer, but also not having enough staff to do the work that needs to be done in order to make the determination. within usda. can you commit that will you staff up so we won't have farmers waiting to find out if they can tile their land? mr. perdue: not only staffing but i think the relationship, as we talked about earlier, with the administrator of e.p.a., to make sure that our producers and farmers don't get caught in some of these unintended consequences of rules that have gone awry. because that's very important. as they try to be compliant, sometimes they get caught into a web of rules that are very onerous.
and i will not only try to provide the staff, that they can do good conservation, good soil preservation, but to work with our administrator at e.p.a. to do that as well. height height which -- ms. heitkamp: we love our neighbors to the north but sometimes we'd like maybe tougher enforcement on some of the grain standards. we've been working on a project out of my office as it relates to the treatment of our grain, which becomes feed category as posed to what it really is, which is good quality wheat. of course we offer a different opportunity for canadian grain that comes south. can you commit to working with the usdr to change their policies and continue to prevent discrimination against grain going to the north? mr. perdue: certainly. i think this is one of those areas where many people have talked about the benefits. as we look at that, there's some inequities and unilateral issues during that, cattle and some milk products, that we can look certainly to our neighbors to the north, of which we have a great relationship.
where we just want to make sure that it is a fair proposition for all. ms. heitkamp: great. the sugar program is critical. i haven't been here for the whole hearing. i don't know if anyone's raised this with you. it's been a program that has guaranteed a steady supply of sugar to this country. i think it's done equitably, doesn't cost the united states taxpayer really anything. but yet it provides that value added opportunity in my community and my state and the state -- many states across the country. will you continue to commit to supporting the sugar program as it's been outlined in the farm program in the past? mr. perdue: if confirmed, i commit to you that i will look at that ina the farm program going on, and i'll commit to support the best benefit of that. i think that's also another issue where maybe trade to the south, we need to look at some of the issues over sugar inequities that may be coming into the country that have been harmful to your growers. ms. heitkamp: i was hoping for a
yes. thank you so much and congratulations on your nomination. mr. roberts: senator perdue. mr. perdue: mr. chairman, for the sake of the republic, i'm going to withhold questions today. thank you. [laughter] mr. roberts: it would appear it would be senator strange. welcome to committee, sir. strange strange thank you very much, -- mr. strange: thank you very much. i look forward to working with you and my colleagues on the committee. i'm especially pleased to welcome you, governor perdue this morning. it's nice to have -- governor perdue, this morning. the nice to have a future secretary who speaks the same language that i do as your neighbor to the west. enjoyed watching you in your career. and i look forward to working with you. i'm going to also spare the committee a length -- lengthy questions today. i do want to just build on
something that senator ernst mentioned. for the last six years i was honored to be the attorney general of our state. i got to work very closely with our now e.p.a. administrator, scott pruitt. we spent a lot of time litigating against the federal government. and its overreaching federal agenda. as we saw it. we were successful in a lot of cases. one of the things that i took away from that experience, and i've discussed this with administrator pruitt, is the lack of cooperation, if will you, between the federal agencies that affect agriculture and our constituents. agriculture is the biggest part of our economy in the state of alabama. as we share many of the same industries. forestry, cat fish farming, all types of other farming activities. the lack of cooperation between those agencies was very frustrating to our farmers. what i'm hoping that will you do is follow through with your commitment to senator ernst to make sure that you, as secretary of agriculture, are
communicating with administrator pruitt and others so that we're eliminating unnecessary, inefficient and really inconsequentialal barriers to our farmers, so they can produce the products that we need in this country and internationally. i appreciate your comments to her. i don't have another question for you right now. i can submit some others later. but that's of particular concern to me. because it's a real-world concern to the people who have to live under the regulations that we pass here in washington. mr. perdue: thank you, senator. just like i mentioned to senator ernst. if i'm honored with confirmation, that's one of the things i look most forward to. we've seen that. the harm that it causes when one agency looks like they're working across purposes of another. i think we're all americans. we're all beneficiaries of all these agencies. and i really look forward to developing the relationships, mutual respect for relationships
with other department heads and other agencies that can communicate possible unintended consequences. so thank you for mentioning that. mr. strange: i look forward to continuing to work with you as you assume your responsibility. i also want to welcome your beautiful family. thank you for your public sacrifice. the family's a partner in this venture, as i well know. thank you. mr. perdue: thank you. mr. roberts: senator donnelly, you were awol last night at the marine mess night. so i want toa written response back -- so i want a written response back to me as an excuse. i'm going to recognize you anyway. mr. donnelly: i was afraid you were going to send me to iwo jima, sir, which would have been a great honor. governor perdue, one thing i want to ask you, i noted that you played football for the university of georgia. and on september 9 in the state of indiana, in notre dame, indiana, georgia is playing notre dame. my alma mater. i want to invite you to the
game. we would like to have you there. we'll have a big pork barbeque in your honor. we'll have all the indiana farmers there. and you can see the irish beat the bulldogs. would you like to come? [laughter] mr. perdue: i'll accept that invitation, exempt for the last clause there. mr. donnelly: i wanted to talk you to a little bit about crop insurance. it's critically important to my state. it's something that we're going to be working on in the farm bill. to my farmers in indiana, that is sling that -- something that they want to make sure stays strong and stays protected. i wanted to get your vies -- views on that. mr. perdue: thank you, senator. i thought you all in the 2014 farm bill made a lot of progress in the crop insurance area. obviously it can always be refined and be made better. but it's vital. to farmers, good producers
there, that need that safety net of both the risk of production and pricing, that you all did so well in that area. and i hope we can even continue that and enhance that. as some of your colleagues have mentioned, look at risk management proposals and other commotcommodities that make sense -- commodities that make sense. to me i think the american taxpayer gets a good value for that. hopefully we can work together. like forward to working with you all as we continue. if i'm confirmed to make sure that the crop insurance program is sound, solid and a good economic value for both -- not only the producers, but the taxpayers as well. mr. donnelly: one of the things that we're all shooting for, i know in kansas and michigan and indiana, mississippi, is for growth of our rural areas, maximizing economic opportunities there. that is a passion of mine. too to make sure we have 92
counties. that every county has a chance. every community has a chance. the chance to buy a home. raise a family. take a vacation. retire with dignity. the secretary of agriculture plays a huge role in rural communities especially. we need to make sure our rural communities have broadband. so companies located there can compete with those across the world. and that they have the same access to educational opportunities that our children do. as in the cities. to expand market opportunities. i want to make sure that as secretary of agriculture, you look at this in a way that you'll be looking at things like broadband and others, to maximize economic opportunities for our rural communities. mr. perdue: certainly. not only broadband, senator, but the opportunity the usda has in rural development and so many other areas. i mean, the vitality of our small communities around your state and all these states really depends on a strong agricultural economy. the usda, in the past, the rural
development program, has been able to help communities maybe get over the line, to do some things they wanted to do, whether it's health care or other types of things, to do that. that's one of the great benefits that i look forward to being able to do, if confirmed, to make the lives of people across america, particularly in rural areas, better. because of the presence of the usda. mr. donnelly: one other thing that we work on a lot are conservation programs. we're very, very proud of our cover crop programs, i think we're first in the nation with that. as our chairman and ranking member always talk about, nobody cares about the environment more than the farmers and the families that live there. we want to make sure that as you look at your job going forward, you're going to commit to work to support and improve the conservation programs as well. mr. perdue: certainly. the nrcs is a big part of american agriculture. as more farmers learn how to
preserve and care and create clean water, reduce runoff, use more efficient use of water, irrigation and precision agriculture, those are the research arm of usda and the extension arm pushing those -- that education information out is critical to continue to improve. the thing i like about farmers is they're all about continuing improvement. and they're competitive. they want to do better each and every year. mr. donnelly: i apologize. i'm running out of time. i want to ask one last thing. the usda has worked to increase access to treatment for opioid and heroin abuse in rural communities. it is breath taking. they've assisted in creating transitional housing. funded initiatives to improve add edcation and raise awareness -- education and raise awareness. perdue has been an as i amazing partner in all of. this i want to make sure the usda is our partner in this critical battle against opened and -- opioid and heroin abuse.
mr. perdue: secretary vilsack and i had an extended conversation about the ability to do that. that's one of the things i was mentioning in the ability of usda, in its rural development program, to add value in rural communities, even the areas of health care. mr. donnelly: thank you. mr. chairman, marines are my heroes. i'll come to the mess with you. any time you want to bring me, i'll be your wing man, sir. mr. roberts: semper fi. senator danes. mr. daines: thank you. governor perdue, thank you so much for your willingness to step up and to serve as our next secretary of agriculture. this is a big deal for my home state of montana. because agriculture is our state's number one industry. it's $6 billion a year back home. without agriculture, montana does not have a strong economy. our farmers, our ranchers this he produce wheat, barley, cattle, sugar beats, pulse crops. we're the nation's leading producer of pulse crops. which has been an exciting
development to see in our state. our products play a critical role not only in feeding our country, by certainly feeding the entire world -- but certainly feeding the entire world. ag production across our nation is diverse. montana ag presents some unique and especially specific challenges. but great opportunities. with that in mind, i want to make sure i extend an invitation to you to come out to montana. we're going to have an ag summit . would love to have you. consider coming out. if nothing else, we can do some preseason elk scouting for the fall. mr. perdue: i'd love to have the opportunity. mr. daines: regarding trade. in 95% of the world's consumers are outside the united states. certainly we have more spending power today on a per capita basis. but as we think about the longer term, as wayne gretzky famously said, skate to where the puck is headed, not where at. trade becomes very important, i think, not only for today's
generation, but to few -- future generations of farmers and ranchers. we're seeing low commodity prices, declining farm incomes. and wheat rley producers in my office the last couple of weeks. our cattle producers. it's a pretty tough climate right now because of low prices. the access to foreign markets for long-term growth and ag i don't think can be overstated. vast amounts of our wheat, our beef, our barley, pulse crops, are exported every year. that helps us in this price arena, helps create jobs, helps grow our economy. governor, as secretary, how will you ensure that ag's voice is heard loud and clear within this administration, to fight for our farmers and ranchers, to ensure we have access to new markets abroad, and not face retaliation? mr. perdue: thank you, senator. i think the good news is we've got a growing middle class arbleds the world that's hungry for those products. food is a noble thing to trade.
as i've indicated several times before, we've got a great story to tell. we've got producers here that can produce more than we need to consume. that's not the case in many parts of the world. so why don't we use that bounty to supply one of the fundamental needs of man kind around the world. and i will continue tirelessly to advocate that within our administration and in conjunction you all in development. i plan to be on site as usda's chief salesman around the world, to sell these products, to negotiate these deals side by side with usdr, side by side with secretary ross, and our whole team there. . i believe that usda will be involved on personal, on-the-ground, boots on the ground negotiations that tables around this world with ag ministers and foreign dignitaries there selling our
product. senator daines: i know that will be music to the years of montana farmers and ranchers to have an advocate yourself. as a governor you were the chief salesperson certainly on behalf of your farmers and ranchers across the world. i want to shift gears and talk about forest management reform. of course we always refer to this committee as the ag committee and that's our highest priority. but it's the agriculture, nutrition and forestry committee. and back home in my state, one of my highest priorities is restoring active management to montana's national forests. unfortunately excessive federal regulations, laws, we have chronic litigation from extremist groups have limited our management of our national forests and a healthy forest is a forest that's actively managed. even projects that we move forth through clabbration, bringing sportsman groups, folks from the logging industry, we move forward and litigated again and oftentimes lose our cases before the ninth
circuit as they have unfortunately have continuous litigation. unfortunately we have a recent ninth circuit decision. it's added another layer of unnecessary red tape and is threatening dozens of forest management projects. the supreme court won't hear this case, unfortunately, but we think we can change the outcome here statutorily and i have a bipartisan support for this legislation and i would ask would you work with me to reverse this disastrous decision that is stemming from the ninth circuit? mr. perdue: if confirmed i would welcome the opportunity to work with you. i've seen your legislation, proposed legislation. i agree with it wholeheartedly. i think at some point you have to say the end is the end and rather than stopping things that are -- had been agreed to with continuing legislation or litigation, rather, is just -- oductive and creates the what you talked about unmanaged
forests. you have to say that's it, we've done that, we've made a decision and we are moving forward. many of your colleagues have nepa approved projects we have not gotten to yet. that's our top priority, but then to move forward. i hope, senator, as we demonstrate good stewardship and management of the u.s. forests, the litigators on the other side will see this is good, this is productive. forests are me arblings they're healthy they're better for everyone when they're managed well rather than lay there and die upon themselves. hopefully we can do that. senator daines: well, said, governor. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator klobuchar. senator klobuchar: thank you, governor. i enjoyed our meeting in our office and you know minnesota is fifth in the country for agriculture. we discussed the differences that you are well aware of the southern and midwestern agriculture. some things in common. ne of them may be birds.
as you know we are hit by the avian flu hard in the midwest. as a result nine million birds died causing economic losses of $650 million. given the reason detections in tennessee, alabama and wisconsin, are you prepared to respond immediately to prevent the possible spread of the disease if and when you're confirmed as secretary? mr. perdue: certainly, senator. as you know the poultry production of this country is amazing. the whole ecosystem that's been developed around that protein, being able to export worldwide, hether it's eggs or poultry, protein, is critical. i'm very proud of the work that i've seen that the usda has done in tennessee and they're very quick confinement and work in cooperation with both states of alabama and tennessee and i think the hardworking people in that animal health area have done a wonderful job. i think they learned a lot from the 2015 outbreak where we
might have been a little slow there, they got on this very quickly. and we are praying that's confined. so certainly we cannot afford an industry such as our poultry industry and any sector to be affected by the damages of a ery severe high pathogen influenza. senator klobuchar: what if the cut would go through? how would you manage it? mr. perdue: i'm hoping we can work with you and the appropriators. we understand what the president's proposal is, but i'd hope you all will help in looking at the keepers of the purse. senator klobuchar: that's a good answer. i am the lead sponsor of the senate bill to end the embargo with cuba. how would you respond to farmers who are concerned about the administration cutting off opportunities for american business in cuba or somehow changing president obama's
executive order? i mean, we'd like to go rther, of course, and pass legislation. we are we are where right now. mr. perdue: i answered earlier if we can get the private financing done there and there are some proposals already to do that, i think american agriculture both in the upper plains and the gulf coast and the east coast have a wonderful opportunity. that's a country that's hungry. i led a delegation there in 2010 in georgia and they wanted our product. they just could not afford it and pay for it there based on the financial crisis they were in. hopefully we can mitigate there. senator klobuchar: i know senator thune talked about the r.f.f. will you work during interagency review with some of your other secretaries? mr. perdue: i will. senator klobuchar: ok. that's a great answer too. the dairy program, what would you do as secretary to ensure the resources needed are available for the marnelin
protection program to be a meaningful safety net for dairy farmers? mr. perdue: thank you, senator. i think we've -- i heard some recent ideas recently that hopefully will even enhance that margin protection program with a risk management program for immediate relief as well as possible solutions for the 2018 farm bill. the volatility of the prices that we've seen in dairy are just unsustainable and you've got not only family dairy farmers but large dairy farms that are just unprofitable and many of them don't have the equity to continue in that area and will be -- it will change their whole lives. senator klobuchar: thank you very much. senator daines was just discussing forestry with you. in the 2014 farm bill i worked on expanding the good neighbor authority that gives the forest service additional flexibility to work with willing state and private landowners to implement forest management practices. will you commit to ensuring the good neighbor authority to
improve forest health from the 2014 farm bill will fully implemented and emphasized as we continue to work on the next farm bill? mr. perdue: i love that name, good neighbor, and that's what i hope we can become. i think, again, where the u.s. forest service becomes a welcomed part of the community in dwelling there and working with the private citizens there, not only for jobs but for good forest management and just literally being good neighbors is not a better way to say that. senator klobuchar: thank you. last, i'm the co-chair of the senate brought to you by caucus and i also am on the -- broadband caucus and also on e -- do you want to end with that and what you'd like to see there coming out of usda? mr. perdue: i'd love to see it get it done with the infrastructure proposal. we are going to have a seat at the table there. the white house has already asked usda for their ideas about that. that's number one. senator klobuchar: thank you. mr. perdue: as well as water
resources as well. clowe senator klobuchar: ok. very good. thank you very much, governor. >> governor perdue, it's great to see you and mary and your beautiful family. thanks for being here and for your willingness to serve. i chair the ag appropriations committee and so i want to express my appreciation for senator klobuchar's question and even more i want to express my appreciation for your answer and i look forward to working with you on that very important issue. senator hoeven: also, one of our former colleagues, senator mike johanns was an outstanding secretary of agriculture and he visited north dakota on several occasions. and so i want to ask if in fact you would be good enough to show up and visit our farmers and ranchers in north dakota who do a fantastic job and would love to see you? mr. perdue: what's the record, senator? senator hoeven i don't know.
i need a commitment you are coming. mr. perdue: i look forward to surpassing my mentor. senator hoeven: can you build the coalition to pass a strong farm bill that really works for our producers? mr. perdue: i believe we can. i think in working with you all and you working on behalf of your constituents i think that we can. i think there was a great progress made in the 2014 farm bill. we know we have a couple of areas that felt left out. we talked about those today. and i think we can get ahead of that and it's even more critical today in the light of commodity prices and where they are that we get a safety net not only for our producers but consumers in going forward. that's the challenge i look forward to, senator, if confirmed. i'm going to work with you to perform the resources and enable to you get a farm bill that's embraced by american agriculture. senator hoeven: you know it
takes the north, south, midwest coalition? mr. perdue: oh, yeah. senator hoeven: the heart and soul of risk management comes down to that countercyclical safety net building on arc and p.l.c. and making sure we strongly, strongly support crop insurance and risk management, do you agree with that and do you see that as the heart and soul of risk management? mr. perdue: absolutely. a well-run, well-managed, well-designed, well-administered gives farmers a lot of confident. senator hoeven: talk about the importance of ag research. we talked about the importance of trade and i absolutely agree with that. but ag research is making such a difference in crops we can grow, disease resistance, our yields which lead to profitability. talk a little bit about your willingness -- and this goes back to the budget issue as well but talk about your commitment to ag research. mr. perdue: it's interesting. we talk a lot about high-tech manufacturing. i would submit to the president and anyone that our
agricultural secture has been the highest tech manufacturing industry we've had in this country for several years. the phenomenal growth in productivity with less inputs and less water and better management, better soil preservation is actually phenomenal. it's really -- it's really wonderful and the basis of that, as you said, is not only good basic research in our land grant universities and others but the transmission of that information through our extension service as well. senator hoeven: are you committed and willing to support the sugar program? mr. perdue: i have and mentioned earlier and certainly i think you have all done a great job in the past for the sugar program as well as who grow the beets and the cane. they come together with a pretty unified front. senator hoeven: talk about trade. it seems like we are in a new era with trade. many like bilateral agreements over large agreements which can work but really important that
we continue to press the trade issue. how do you go about doing that as ag secretary leading the world of agriculture? mr. perdue: i think speedyly i think because our farmers cannot wait very long. the t.p.p. had been around for a while and negotiated but the bilateral will take time and we just need to get about the business of selling u.s. products. so if confirmed my first stop lighthizer's office door. he committed to me that 08% what he heard had been about agriculture. i thought that was good news. we have to get on it. senator hoeven: obviously with your background is so strong in agriculture and across the board but clearly your knowledge about trade it's going to be very important that you're a lead player in negotiating those agreements. mr. perdue: we hope to be, senator. senator hoeven: great to see you. thanks for being here and for your willingness to serve.
senator roberts: i remember back in 1918 -- [laughter] when senator joseph france became a member of the committee. he was a good man. very willing and able to work with 99 years later we have the benefit senator van hollen coming from maryland to join us on the agriculture committee. welcome, sir. senator van hollen: thank you for noting that. very proud of the fact i am the first maryland senator to serve on this committee back in 1922, i believe. senator roberts: he began in 1918. senator van hollen: governor, it's great to see you and i enjoyed our conversation as well. i want to pick up on one of the
things we talked about which was the chesapeake bay which is a national treasure. it's also vital to the economy in the state of maryland, having a healthy and clean bay. both for the watermen, the people who get the bounty of the bay, the oystermen and the crabs, which many people around the country enjoy, to our tourism industry where people around the country come to the bay because of its beauty and the boating industry. and what we worked in maryland to do is work closely with our farmers to make sure we have a vibrant farming industry on the eastern shore of maryland along with a healthy bay. and so the conservation programs are very important to our state and the bay states as many others, and in the 2008 farm bill worked very closely with our ranking member and others to create a chesapeake bay conservation program. that became very popular in states with water bodies. it became the regional
conservation partnership program. and our conservation efforts also rely on the equip program and the conservation reserve program. my question to you is do you agree these are important programs that we got in place that we need to continue? mr. perdue: senator, i certainly agree. we cannot continue the progress that's been made in the chesapeake bay and you articulated what a vital resource nationally it is and certainly for the people who live in that watershed and around that body of water for so many reasons. i don't believe we can continue the progress that has been made much so the credit of farmers, agri businesses and others who acknowledged the runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus has damaged that and i hope we can continue, again, by the -- ation and the national nrcs, that we could continue that program.
so i certainly hope that we will be able to. and even increase and continue the progress. senator van hollen: i appreciate that. as you know we worked in a very cooperative relationship with the farmers in connection with this particular program. as stewards of the land it's very important we have a good working and cooperative relationship which we have had. -- the want to say land grant program, i listened carefully when the president proposes and congress proposes and it's great to have the chairman of the appropriations committee here as well, the chairman of the subcommittee appropriations. we will hopefully work to address these issues. i know 15 of maryland's 20 counties will be in really tough positions if they don't get the benefit of those loans. and i also say i look forward to working with the chairman of
the appropriations committee on the e.p.a. budget, the trump administration proposal wipes out the peafment's chesapeake bay program which -- e.p.a.'s chesapeake bay program which has been a bipartisan part in our area. we talked about crop insurance and dealing with risk. in maryland, most of our farms are small and medium-sized farms and especially with respect to specialty crops, especially the way crop insurance is currently designed. so i just want to hear from you a willingness to explore ways we can modify some of those provisions to make sure we address the needs of some of the smaller medium sized farms? mr. perdue: certainly. by the way, congratulations on your desire to be on this committee. i think maryland, many people don't understand the value of agriculture to maryland but it's significant in that way -- the maller farms
crop insurance i think that was a great beginning. can we go further. i believe absolutely if we look at how we can -- what we learned from the 2014 farm bill, how we can continue to enhance that and to make smaller specialty crops, particularly smaller farmers a viable alternative to them. senator van hollen: all right. on the food and nutrition programs, i want to add my voice to our senators who said how important that is to our states. finally, mr. chairman, we have in maryland an 1890 land grant hbcu, university of maryland eastern shore, that's doing innovative work. you know that our hbcu's faced significant challenges, including maintenance funds and others and i know you worked on this issue. i would just like to get your commitment to follow up in a conversation to try and address the issue of strengthening the 1890 hcbu's.
mr. perdue: we have those in georgia as well. and i was pleased to see our president welcome them as well and commit to make commitments about those areas. so i look forward to working with you directly regarding your specific hbcu. senator van hollen: we have a particular challenge and issue with one of our hbcu 1890 so thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman and welcome, governor. nice to see you again. my colleagues don't know but during the secretary designee's time in the air force, governor rdue spent time at lock burn base in ohio and you will put ohio second ahead of georgia. senator van hollen had a couple of points that i wanted to re-emphasize. one is the importance of the chesapeake bay. senator brown: a lot of those apply to the great lakes initiative. the president has cut it almost 100% which is just ludicrous.
senator portman and i and senator stabenow, all of us on the great lakes states, the irony it was a great lakes states that really won him the election. i am old enough to remember senator stabenow's not old enough but i am old enough to remember what the great lakes looked like when i was a kid and it's one of the great accomplishments of government and communities and the federal government, especially to clean this up and we can't see us backslide so i would like to emphasize the important. chesapeake bay is pretty important. great lakes is the largest collection of fresh water in the world. chesapeake bay isn't freshwater. senator van hollen: i object. senator brown: he's a new member. he can't object. i want to talk about ag and nutrition in the farm bill, holding it together when there's pressures to divide it. thank you, chairman roberts, about your statements about. and the statements about senator van hollen on historically black colleges is
really, really important and i wanted central state in my state particularly important. i know you worked with georgia's hbcu as governor and fort valley state university as an 1890 land grant. thoughts -- if you would give us real briefly because we are running out of time and a vote's coming, what specifically are you your thoughts and ideas as the next step you plan to take in support of those universities? mr. perdue: again, i was pleased to hear the president welcome them and commit to do that. as you -- i think you referred to fort valley state. they are in our adjacent county and we know the work that they do as a land grant university and unique programs there in the state and i look forward -- they got a value to serve and i look forward to helping them with the research providing -- asking them for particular research projects with usda that has the opportunity to do that. give them an opportunity to compete in those areas and to
listen and learn from them as well as they can provide good information for us in areas which they operate. senator brown: i appreciate your sensitivity to historically black colleges unlike your soon-to-be colleague in the cabinet who said they were about choice or something when it came to black colleges. it was a rather pi kuhl yar statement. that's not you. -- pi kuhl yar statement. that's not you. my state has more opioid deaths than any state in the country. the repeal of the affordable care act, there are 200,000 right now ohioans that getting opioid treatment that are on the affordable care act. i know that's not your issue, exactly, although it's your party's issue and the president's issue. i just ask if something happens and that insurance is taken away, as it would be with the house bill, for all those people that have opioid addictions and are getting treatment, i would ask you if you'd go back to o.m.b. and the
white house to protect funding used in the battle against opioid addiction in rural ohio and rural america. mr. perdue: i am not sure you were here when i had a conversation with secretary vilsack. he was glad of the input the usda on the sad opioid. the sad thing about that, as you well know, senator, much of this is in rural areas of despair so i will absolutely be an advocate for the betterment. obviously usda doesn't have the capacity to supplant everything in health care but it does have an opportunity to help in that regard and i would welcome doing that. senator brown: that is why my republican governor, my other colleague in the senate, senator portman, both expressed great concern about the affordable care act and what would happen to medicaid. 700,000 ohioans are on medicaid expansion. those are -- it's pretty amazing to me that a bunch of us in this body who get government supported insurance, who taxpayers subsidize our
health insurance, that people in this body and the other house want to take away insurance for a whole lot of low-income working people, those are the medicaid expansion people, i needed to say that because that's a big part of the opioid issue. last issue and i know you are getting impatient, mr. chairman. i worked with senator thune the last farm bill and the ag risk coverage program. i mentioned that in our meeting. arc. it protects ens unforeseen declines between when either prices are low or production is low because of unforeseen circumstances that people have a safety net, that farmers have a safety net. the administration's budget proposal had sharp cuts to the national ag statistic service which raises real questions about usda having the resources necessary to collect the independent, unbiased price and yield data so a.r.c. can be implemented with the proper
information. one in seven jobs in my state depends on agriculture. that's why i am on this committee. i need to know that farmers can depend on you. i know your specialty is not the same agriculture as most of the agriculture in the senator, the ranking member and my state. i understand and i accept that. i just want to know you will work with us and use your authority to make sure that, a, we can find ways to carry out the a.r.c., the ag risk coverage program, and that you can help us -- second part of that question -- short-term assistance with dairy farmers. i heard you mentioned them briefly. and i just need assurances on both of those issues. mr. perdue: certainly. let me take the second one last. we assisted in the dairy area. farmers have to rely on the credibility of good independent data to provide that information because the a.r.c. and the p.l.c. program both depend on that and that's the independent source that's
trusted worldwide. supply and demand and different things that move markets. that's a critical, critical part of usda, and i certainly will support that the best of my ability. senator brown: thank you. governor, you can tell your children and grandchildren that your confirmation hearing was in the kennedy caucus where the titanic hearings were, the watergate hearings, the markup of the affordable care act. what else happened? the mccarthy hearings in the 1950's all were in this room. if your children and grandchildren are here, now you know. and if they're not here, tell them. mr. perdue: i think you just old them, senator. senator roberts: senator stabenow. senator stabenow: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to indicate, i know we have a vote coming of and you are about to wrap up. i do have additional questions that i will submit for the record. as well as the letter that i referenced earlier regarding dairy. i'd like toes to be placed in the record and thank you very much. senator roberts: all members
should understand they can submit letters for the record. i do want to mention the fact that the committee has received a number of letters in support of your nomination, including one from nearly 700 -- 700 organizations across the agriculture and food value chain as well as one from six former u.s. secretaries of agriculture representing both republican and the democrat presidentses. governor perdue, thank you for your willingness to be considered a preservist for agriculture and rural america as secretary of agriculture. this committee has a history working in a bipartisan fashion , as this hearing has demonstrated, as opposed to others that have been going on in this -- in the senate. while crafting legislation and considering nominations. and we will move as quickly as possible to consider your nomination. as you know we will not be voting on your nomination today but we will work to schedule a
business meeting asap for a committee vote. again, i ask members to submit any additional questions you may have for the record by 5:00 tomorrow, friday, march 24. in addition the record will be opened for five business days for statements and business materials. thank you, everyone, for your time today. young man with a red tie who seems to be anxious to leave. [laughter] senator stabenow: we got two red ties here. senator roberts: we got you, man. we are adjourned. mr. perdue: thank you, mr. chairman. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. >> u.s. house will be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern today to start work on three suspension bills dealing with emergency preparedness. members will vote on those bills today at 6:30 eastern. coming up later this week, the house will consider overturning a federal communications commission rule dealing with internet privacy. also, a measure requiring that the environmental protection agency make all of its scientific data public. again, today, the house will be back at 5:00 p.m. eastern. live here on c-span. until then, show you a conversation from this morning's "washington journal." >> "washington journal" continues. host: each week in this segment of "washington journal" we take a look at