Heitkamp First Democratic Senator To Support Trump’s Agriculture Secretary Nominee

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Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp endorsed former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary Monday.

“I look forward to confirming [Perdue] to this important post and working with him to get results for North Dakota farmers and ranchers,” Heitkamp said in a statement after meeting with the nominee Monday.


“Farmers and ranchers are the backbone of North Dakota’s economy, which is why I take this nomination so seriously,” Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp, who sits on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is the first sitting Democratic senator to endorse Perdue. The Agriculture Committee has not yet scheduled a confirmation hearing for Perdue.

Heitkamp emphasized the importance of trade during her 45-minute meeting with Perdue, and plugged a bill she recently introduced that would expand farm exports to Cuba following the lifting of sanctions.

“Financing restrictions are the top barrier facing North Dakota farmers who want to sell their crops to Cuba, and my bipartisan bill would do away with that obstacle—supporting North Dakota farmers and American jobs in our state that depend on agriculture,” Heitkamp said.

Wheat, one of the top agriculture products of North Dakota, was one of the top four agricultural exports to Cuba before the U.S. government blocked trade with the country in 1959. Many hope that opening trade with Cuba will be a strong market for U.S. agriculture products.


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 Reconstruction in 2003. (RELATED: Trump Picks Governor Who Prayed For Rain To Lead Agriculture Department)

President Barack Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack endorsed Perdue for the position last week. (RELATED: Obama’s Ag Secretary Endorses Trump’s Pick For Farm Agency) 

Vilsack now serves as the president and CEO of the Dairy Export Council, where he will oversee policy and regulatory affairs issues; he should be familiar with most of these issues, since he directed policy and regulation as head of the USDA for Obama’s entire presidency.

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