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March 18, 2019 |
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Sec. Sonny Perdue Keynotes NGFA Annual Convention

Outlined USDA's triumphs and tribulations since 2018, thanked NGFA for involvement

Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Sec. Sonny Perdue delivered the keynote address at NGFA's 123rd Annual Convention in Amelia Island, FL, on Monday. His remarks opened with a sense of urgency to bring new talent into the commercial agriculture field. 

"The next generation is critical to the future of commercial agriculture because farmers and grain handlers are aging," Perdue said. "Programs like NGFA's Committee Apprenticeship Program are excellent for our industry's young people." 

Perdue also congratulated the NFGA for its advocacy on trade issues. "The trade disruptions in 2019 were monumental, and your voice was heard," said Perdue.

On matters like withdrawing from NAFTA and the new USMCA deal, Perdue noted that comments from NGFA's President Randy Gordon were influential over key officials at USDA. 

Perdue reminded the audience that their voices are important and urged them to reach out to their senators with feedback on policies that work for them and policies that work against them.

"Your voice is powerful and you've got influence," he said. "Your senators want to hear from you on how your farmers are doing." 

President Trump's loyalty to agriculture runs deep and the administration is dedicated to making trade policies that are better for agriculture, he noted. 

"Steel aluminum tariffs are on our mind and those have got to be resolved," Perdue said. "We are really looking forward to a bi-lateral agreement with Japan. We want it to be even better than TPP. I hope we can have that agreement quickly, but sometimes it can take years."

Touching on the 2018 Farm Bill, Perdue called it "evolutionary, not revolutionary." 

"We made changes with CRP, but we didn't change much that would affect grain handlers," Perdue said. "We left the most productive areas alone, and worked on what needed to be improved." 

Perdue also urged the audience to stay engaged with the railroads over increasing service charges and to continue pressuring legislators to change hours of service laws for trucking. 

"We're working on that and we want to have an open door with you," Perdue said. "I know what you think when you hear 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help,' but we really are. I am." 

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