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Understanding the President’s Cabinet: Agriculture Secretary

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Note: This is post #14 in a weekly series of explanatory posts on the officials and agencies included in the President’s Cabinet. See the series introduction here.

USDA logo / USDA.gov

Cabinet position: Secretary of Agriculture

Department: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Current Secretary: Sonny Perdue

Succession: The Agriculture Secretary is ninth in the presidential line of succession.

Department Mission: “[To] provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management.” (Source)

Department Budget: $151 billion for FY2017

Number of employees: Over 100,000

Primary Duties of the Secretary: The Ag Secretary has numerous responsibilities required by law, including:

Establishing jointly with the Secretary of Health and Human Services procedures for coordination with respect to nutrition research in areas of mutual interest.

Taking the initiative in establishing coordination of State-Federal cooperative agricultural research, extension, and teaching programs, funded in whole or in part by the Department of Agriculture in each State, through the administrative heads of land-grant colleges and universities and the State directors of agricultural experiment stations and cooperative extension services, and other appropriate program administrators
Coordinating all agricultural research, extension, and teaching activity conducted or financed by the Department of Agriculture.

Coordinating the efforts of States, State cooperative institutions, State extension services, the Advisory Board, and other appropriate institutions in assessing the current status of, and developing a plan for, the effective transfer of new technologies, including biotechnology, to the farming community, with particular emphasis on addressing the unique problems of small- and medium-sized farms in gaining information about those technologies.

Secretary Info

Sonny Perdue / USDA.gov

Secretary: Sonny Perdue

Previous occupation: Governor of Georgia (2003-2011); Founder Perdue Partners, a a global trading company that facilitates U.S. commerce focusing on the export of U.S. goods and services.

Education: B.S. and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from University of Georgia.

Previous government experience: Houston County Planning and Zoning Board; State senator and governor in Georgia;

Religious Affiliation: Baptist

Notable achievements:

Served as a Captain in the United States Air Force.

Was the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction.

Notable quotes:

On the difference between business and government: “In the business world, lower profits reflect less demand for your product. But in government the opposite is true — demand for our services increases in hard times.

On government intervention: “We don’t want a busybody government – a boss – that butts into our lives every chance it gets to tell us how to work, how to play, where to live and on and on. And we don’t want to perpetuate an entitlement mentality that causes people to expect more and more from the government and less and less of themselves.”

On the goal of state government: “We want a state wise in its contemplation…just in its actions…and moderate in the reach of government into our lives.”


Previous and forthcoming posts in this series: 
Secretary of StateSecretary of the TreasurySecretary of Education, Secretary of LaborSecretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of CommerceSecretary of Health and Human ServicesSecretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of EnergySecretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Homeland Security

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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