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Obama’s Ag Secretary Endorses Trump’s Pick For Farm Agency

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Longtime Democrat and former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has endorsed Gov. Sonny Perdue, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department.

Vilsack, President Barack Obama’s cabinet secretary, said the former Georgia governor is committed to the success of farmers in the U.S. and would work tirelessly to open up markets abroad.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Governor Perdue and know how committed he is to all of our farmers, ranchers, and producers regardless of size or production method (to) expand markets here and throughout the world,” Vilsack in a statement distributed by the Trump transition team.

Trade has been a key concern for farmers and rural communities, who nevertheless supported Trump over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the November election. (RELATED: Farmers Implore Trump To Protect Ag Trade Deals)

“As a former governor, he knows full well the opportunities and challenges that exist in rural communities. He will, I am sure, work hard to expand opportunity in rural America,” Vilsack, who was governor of Iowa before Obama tapped him to join the cabinet in 2008, said in the statement.

“As a former governor, he will understand and pay attention to the many and varied interests that depend on the department, including efforts to provide all of us, and especially our children, with safe, nutritious and affordable food,” Vilsack said.

Agriculture.com confirmed Vilsack’s endorsement through a spokesperson. Vilsack now leads the U.S. Dairy Export Council as president and CEO.

Perdue began his career as a Democrat, but switched affiliations to the Republican party in 1998. He was elected to the Georgia state senate three times as a Democrat, and once as a Republican in 1998. He became Georgia’s first Republican governor since the Reconstruction in 2003. (RELATED: Trump Picks Governor Who Prayed For Rain To Lead Agriculture Department)

The Senate Committee on Agriculture has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Perdue, who has been on Capitol Hill this week to meet with senators, working out of the offices of his cousin, Georgia Sen. David Perdue.

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