Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue leads prayer service for rain on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta Nov. 13, 2007. Georgia citizens, politicians and religious leaders were invited to the public prayer service to pray for relief to Georgia's drought. Getty Images/Jessica McGowan

Perdue named secretary of agriculture

Legislative Watch: Perdue tabbed by Trump as ag secretary; Cuba ag exports bill aims to level field; ag subcommittee chairs named; study shows ethanol emits less GHG than gas; Vilsack heads to dairy council.

The day before he was sworn in as the 45th president, Donald Trump named former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as his nominee to be the next secretary of agriculture.

Trump says, “From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

Perdue served as governor of Georgia from 2003-11. He grew up on a farm in central Georgia and has been involved in a number of small agribusiness and transportation companies. He earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine at the University of Georgia. He was an original member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.

Perdue’s nomination received support from the American Farm Bureau, American Soybean Association, Farm Credit Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Institute, and many others.

Besides the secretary there are more than 200 USDA political appointments to be filled. A total of 14 appointees will need Senate confirmation which could take months to complete.

Private financing for ag sales to Cuba levels the field

One of U.S. agriculture’s challenges in being competitive in the Cuban market is the lack of being able to provide financing of agricultural sales. Over the past few years, the United States has seen its sales to Cuba drop from $700 million in 2008 to less than $200 million in 2015. This loss is largely due to our competitors being able to offer generous credit terms.

Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR) introduced bipartisan legislation, “The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act,” that will allow for private financing of U.S agricultural exports to Cuba. The legislation is receiving broad support from the agricultural community including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Turkey Federation and USA Rice.

House ag subcommittee chairmen named

House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX), named the subcommittee chairmen for the 115th Congress.

They are Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research — Rodney Davis (R-IL); Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit — Austin Scott (R-GA); Conservation and Forestry — Frank Lucas (R-OK); General Farm Commodities and Risk Management — Rick Crawford (R-AR); Livestock and Foreign Agriculture — David Rouzer (R-NC); and Nutrition — Glenn Thompson (R-PA).

Study shows ethanol greenhouse gas emissions less than gasoline

USDA recently released a study that found that greenhouse gas emissions associated with corn-based ethanol are 43% lower than gasoline when measured on an “energy equivalent” basis. The report, “A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol,” measured how the ethanol industry and farm sectors performed over the past decade to assess the GHG profile of corn-based ethanol.

The report found, given current trends, that by 2022 the GHG profile of corn-based ethanol is expected to be almost 50% lower than gasoline due to improvements in corn yields, process fuel switching and transportation efficiency.

Vilsack to head U.S. Dairy Export Council

Former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will become president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council effective Feb. 1. USDEC works to expand global markets for U.S. dairy products.

Today exports represent 15.5% of U.S. milk production compared to approximately 5% when USDEC was founded in 1995.

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