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A Day in the Life of Sonny Perdue

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has made headlines announcing a trade mitigation program and reorganizing the USDA since taking office in April 2017. But who is the white-haired, southern man behind the headlines? What is it like to be in his shoes? Here’s a day in the life of your Secretary of Agriculture.

5:30 a.m. The security detail picks up Perdue from the home he shares with his wife, Miss Mary, in northern Virginia.

5:45 a.m. Perdue arrives at the Pentagon Athletic Center ready to take on a couple of racquetball matches. 

“I think it’s really important to keep moving. I want to wear out, not rust out,” the 72-year-old secretary explains.

6:45 a.m. Perdue heads to the office for a few hours of quiet work before meetings and appointments begin.

8:28 a.m. Just a few minutes ahead of schedule, the Agriculture Secretary heads to the Ag Connections Café, a formal dining space in the USDA building, to share breakfast with his cousin, U.S. Senator David Perdue.

10:00 a.m. Secretary Perdue and two communications staff meet with Successful Farming magazine Editorial Content Director Dave Kurns and Digital Content Editor Natalina Sents in the Agriculture Secretary’s ceremonial office. The group discusses the January 2019 issue of Successful Farming magazine. Perdue helps curate the most timely and relevant agricultural issues to be covered in the issue.

USDA staff photographer Tom Witham documents the meeting, as he does with many events Perdue attends in Washington, D.C. 


The tech-savvy Agriculture Secretary wears an Apple watch and carries an iPad. He texts and emails to communicate with his staff.

11:00 a.m. More than two dozen school food and nutrition service administrators representing both rural and urban students meet with Perdue to thank him for removing what they call overregulation. They also explain the challenges they face. USDA oversees the National School Lunch Program.

12:52 p.m. Three fellow Georgians, including American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, drop by to visit. Major General Joseph Jarrad led Perdue’s security team during Perdue’s time as governor and presented the Secretary with a National Guard hat and bag before catching up in Perdue’s private office.

1:30 p.m. Senior staff brief the Agriculture Secretary regarding The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

2:19 p.m. Former colleages from Georgia stop by to talk about conservation easments and wildlife management while visiting the latest addition to the Agriculture Secretary’s office. Earl the turkey and Eddie the elk are on display for guests to admire.

3:00 p.m. Perdue has a scheduled phone call with Alaska governor Bill Walker.

3:10 p.m. Three USDA staff bring Perdue up to speed after several computer updates were installed. Like many offices around the country, Perdue and his staff regularly use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

4:00 p.m. The Agriculture Secretary has another scheduled phone call with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

4:30 p.m. Congressman Dan Newhouse of Washington has a call with Perdue.

5:02 p.m. Perdue sits down with Successful Farming magazine Editor Sents to shed light on his background and family life. The Agriculture Secretary explains why his grandchildren call him Big Buddy and shares details about his tie collection. 

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