‘We're Not Messing With the RFS,’ USDA Perdue Tells Iowa Farmers
NEVADA, Iowa — Iowa farmers got their chance to hear firsthand from USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue about his intent to preserve the U.S. ethanol industry and promote trade.
In an appearance at a cattle farm May 5 in Iowa, Secretary Perdue told a crowd of farmers, lawmakers, and members of the agricultural industry that the Trump administration will not mess with the Renewable Fuels Standard.
Aside from visiting the state to hunt and take part in the outdoors, the Georgia-native made his first visit to Iowa, following an order from his new boss.
“President Trump wanted me out here to let you all know that he understands American agriculture and that it is vital to the U.S. economy. And he understands that Iowa is vital to U.S. agriculture,” Perdue says.
Perdue added, “As farmers, we need to be better communicators, but farmers are definitely part of our national security.”
The new USDA leader stressed that no longer can farmers just be good producers; they have to tell the nation that the food is safe and their animals are treated well.
“We’re going to make sound science, fact-based, data-driven decisions. Because that is what works in agriculture,” says Perdue. “At the same time, we should be unapologetic in agriculture.”
Iowa farmers were waiting to hear what the Trump administration is going to do with the ethanol industry and the Renewable Fuels Standard. Secretary Perdue wasted no time putting the farmers’ minds at ease.
“I work for a guy named Donald J. Trump. Did you hear what he said during the (presidential) campaign? He said that renewable energy and ethanol is here to stay. And we’re going to look for more technology to make it more efficiently. Many people think there is still a subsidy involved today. This is a mature industry and continues to grow and thrive. I look forward to giving the president new ideas from the Renewable Fuels Standard and other things that can help the industry do better,” Perdue says.
When addressing the topic of trade, Perdue reminded Iowa farmers that the state’s efforts to reach out to China in 1984 are still paying off in 2017.
“Hosting China’s delegation back then made a great impression on the now leader of the second-largest economy in the world. It’s relationship building like this that makes it easier for us to go tell people around the world about U.S. products.”
The Chinese want Iowa beef, and the U.S. is going to sell it to them, Secretary Perdue pledged.
“He (President Trump) instructed me to send him a letter about getting beef into China and Japan. He will put a personal note on these letters and get them to the leaders of those countries. He has my back,” Perdue says.
“We have built trust and we’re going to convince people around the world about the quality of our beef. So, you grow it (beef), and we’ll sell it,” Perdue adds.
Conservation Red Tape
Iowa farmers also asked Secretary Perdue if he plans to make it easier for farmers to participate in conservation programs.
“I’m on it,” Perdue says. “When you go in to meet with the Farm Service Agency office, NRCS office, crop insurance folks, we shouldn’t put you under an interrogation at every point. It ought to be a stop-shop so you can go home and put that seed in the ground.”
When asked how long it will take to settle the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) disputes with Mexico and Canada, Secretary Perdue reiterated that President Trump has a plan and that he’s working it.
“Like President Trump said last week, we are going to give these countries involved in NAFTA time to figure out a way to make this trade agreement more fair and balanced for all countries involved,” says Perdue.
Between NAFTA, expected USDA budget cuts, the construction of a new farm bill, and naming new subcabinet members, Secretary Perdue told reporters that he is focused on the building blocks of a better USDA.
“We want facts-based, data-driven, customer-focused, ethics, transparency, and integrity in this agency. I’m focused on making the USDA the best managed and most effective agency for the American taxpayer in all of the United States government,” Perdue says.