Perdue Faces Push Back on USDA Reorganization Plan

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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the head of the Agriculture Department’s rural development efforts would be confirmed by the Senate, as included in his USDA reorganization proposal. He made the remarks during a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the state of the rural economy Wednesday. Perdue, who announced the reorganization plan last week, said the head of the rural development mission area under his plan would be an assistant secretary confirmed by the Senate. But, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says the change must be approved by Congress.

A spokesperson with the Coalition said that what Perdue said “cannot be true,” unless USDA proposes legislation to Congress to create the new assistant secretary position. By law, USDA is limited to three assistant secretaries, according to the Coalition. The Center for Rural Affairs, is calling on Congress to restore the rural development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with the undersecretary position. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is reorganizing USDA and creating an Undersecretary for Trade. Rural Affairs Policy Program Director Johnathan Hladik says they’re not opposed to that position, but also want an Undersecretary of Rural Development.

During his testimony, the Secretary defended his decision to eliminate the position, which coordinates billions of dollars in loans and grant programs, explaining that an assistant secretary position will spearhead rural development. “The mission is not going to diminish whatsoever,” Perdue responded. “The people are going to report to this assistant secretary, who will have direct access to the secretary, and I consider that an elevation.”

Source: NAFB News Service

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