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Trump Wants Year-Round E15 Approval Next Week, Says Perdue

“Make the RFS Great Again” hats dotted the crowd of farmers and agribusiness leaders who gathered to welcome U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, on Wednesday. Trade and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) were clearly top concerns for many in attendance.

After a short tour of ag equipment, technology, and services on display, Perdue took the stage at the Sukup exhibit. Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Monte Shaw thanked the secretary saying, “We know you are sometimes a very lonely voice inside the administration, outside the president, supporting the RFS and E15. Please keep it up.”

Perdue enthusiastically shared his latest update. “As we were pulling up to the expo grounds here this morning I got a call from an unknown number. I have learned to pick those up now. Most of us ignore those unknown numbers, but the voice on the other line said, ‘Is this Secretary Perdue?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ The voice said, ‘This is the White House operator. Can you hold for the president?’ I did take his call, you’ll be glad to know. You’ll also be glad to know the topic.”

The Secretary recalled his phone conversation with President Trump. “He said, ‘Sonny, I got two things for you. One of them is we need to get this RFS straightened out.’ This is the fifth or sixth time he has mentioned this to me personally. Sometimes at all hours of the night.

"He said, ‘You get with that EPA administrator and y’all bring me something next week that I can announce,’ ” explained Perdue assuring farmers Trump has the RFS on his mind and wants a solution quickly, specifically he wants a plan for E15 to be sold year-round.

Trade Agreements

The crowd cheered as Perdue turned his attention to trade issues that have been dominating headlines in recent months. The secretary highlighted the progress made toward renegotiating NAFTA with the tentative trade agreement with Mexico that was announced Monday. He hopes Canada will join the agreement soon.

Later, Perdue took his turn on stage with Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson to speak to a larger audience of farmers after six state secretaries of agriculture gave updates from their states.

When pressed to respond to farmers who are concerned that irreparable long-term damage has been done to trading relationships around the world, Perdue said, “I don’t believe we’ve done irreparable damage long term. The United States, when we get these trade disputes resolved, needs to identify and be known as a reliable supplier, and I think we will be.”

However, he did acknowledge it may take a while to get some markets back.

The secretary explained the USDA tries to “stay in its lane” when it comes to issues Congress works on such as the farm bill, but it is always available to provide help and encouragement when called upon.

Hope for the Future

Since taking office in April 2017, Perdue has visited 45 states. “The great thing is, the people are basically the same. They embody that great American spirit that built this country of risk taking, entrepreneurship, hard work, American values of faith and family that are inspiring to me everywhere I go.”

With his remaining time on stage, Perdue focused on the hope young people involved in youth organizations, such as 4-H and FFA, bring him for the future of the agricultural industry.           

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