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Perdue approved by Senate Ag Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee voted Thursday to approve former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the Secretary of Agriculture.

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Sonny Perdue is sworn in at his nominating hearing in front of the Senate Ag Committee. Reuters photo.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee voted Thursday to approve former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as the Secretary of Agriculture.

Perdue's nomination will now advance to the full Senate for confirmation, and if passed he will become the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a member of the president's cabinet.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., released a statement in support of Perdue on Thursday following his vote of approval for the former governor.

"The Senate Agriculture Committee overwhelmingly approved Gov. Perdue because he will be a good advocate for farmers and ranchers across the nation," Hoeven said. "He understands the importance of building a strong North, South and Midwest coalition to pass the next farm bill, as well as the need to maintain strong crop insurance options and update the countercyclical safety net so that it works for our producers."

During a hearing last week, Perdue accepted an invitation from Hoeven to visit North Dakota to see the state's agricultural industry.

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Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., also voted in support of Perdue on Thursday.

"USDA has gone without a leader for too long, and it's my hope that getting Gov. Perdue confirmed will put a strong voice who understands rural America in charge of a federal agency that's vital for North Dakota farmers and ranchers," Heitkamp said in a press release. "With this administration proposing drastic 21 percent cuts to USDA's budget, I'm also pushing Perdue to stand up and explain how that would hurt rural communities in North Dakota and across the country."

Ed Schafer, former North Dakota governor and Secretary of Agriculture appointed by President George W. Bush, said he believes Perdue would be a good fit for the position with his experience as governor in an agriculturally strong state.

"You know the governor's office is an administrative office for the delivery of government programs and services and you know, that's what USDA is," Schafer said. "In Governor Perdue's case ... he understands the whole agriculture arena. He has been a governor, so his administrative skills with budgeting and management are super. I think he's a good choice."

Heitkamp and Hoeven have encouraged Perdue, if elected, to pass a Farm Bill that will be beneficial for North Dakotans.

The Farm Bill expires and is updated every five years. After the bill's expiration, a new Farm Bill is proposed, debated and passed by Congress and then signed into law by the president. The current bill was put in place in 2014.

"The Agriculture Secretary plays a key role in making sure USDA implements the Farm Bill in a way that works for North Dakota's farmers and ranchers," Heitkamp said in a press release. "If he's confirmed, I'll work with Perdue to make sure he's engaged as we negotiate the 2018 Farm Bill and understands the needs of North Dakota."

The press release from Heitkamp stated that she helped write, negotiate, and pass the 2014 Farm Bill. In August 2016, she started preparing for the 2018 Farm Bill with a two-day tour across the state meeting with farmers, ranchers, researchers and other agriculture leaders to get feedback for the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations.

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Hoeven also served on the Senate-House Conference Committee that crafted the final farm bill of 2014, according to a press release.

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