“When I travel around the state, I engage in a 99 county tour, and I consistently hear how challenging it is to be a farmer or rancher right now, due not only to the low prices, but also because of onerous government regulations. I hope you are prepared to work with all of those who are engaged in our ag economy to ensure it remains one of the strongest in feeding and fueling our growing world.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy, today questioned President Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, at his confirmation hearing.

Senator Ernst began her questioning by addressing the downturn in the agricultural economy, which is hurting farmers and ranchers across Iowa, especially young and beginning farmers. Senator Ernst also addressed with Mr. Perdue the unnecessary burden of regulations, and received a commitment from the USDA nominee that he will collaborate with Administrator Pruitt of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies to roll back these harmful mandates. Additionally, the Iowa Senator asked Mr. Perdue to fill the Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs position as directed by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill.

To view the full video of Senator Ernst’s questioning, please click here or on the image below.

The following is the full text of Senator Ernst’s opening remarks:

“Governor Perdue, thank you so much for being here today and I want to thank your lovely family for joining you as well, it’s good to see everybody here.

“As some of my colleagues have already stated, the ag economy has really been in a downturn the last number of years, and a lot of our producers are hurting, especially those young and beginning farmers that have just gotten their start in the last ten years.

“The renewable fuels revolution bolstered demand for our commodities, driven by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and energy programs that were included in the Farm Bill.

“Trade deals like NAFTA helped to fuel both grain and meat exports which are very vital to our producers’ profitability.

“As we have seen so many times before, our farmers continue to innovate and find new ways to grow more food with fewer inputs – and have not only met this new demand, but they’ve exceeded it and done quite well – leading to the slump in commodity prices we have been feeling so acutely.

“When I travel around the state, I engage in a 99 county tour, and I consistently hear how challenging it is to be a farmer or rancher right now, due not only to the low prices, but also because of onerous government regulations.

I hope you are prepared to work with all of those who are engaged in our ag economy to ensure it remains one of the strongest in feeding and fueling our growing world.

“Whenever I do visit those farmers and ranchers and others within the ag community, one of the common refrains that I hear is about federal regulations, especially from the EPA, how they’re harming their operations, and making their lives pretty difficult.

“Whether it’s their misguided WOTUS rule or the delays in approving ag-biotech products, the EPA almost seems to have an agenda against those that are in the agricultural community.

“How will you collaborate with the EPA to ensure that their work is helping, rather than hindering, our farmers and ranchers?”

“…Well I appreciate that very much and I certainly support your willingness to work with the other departments and heads of those agencies.

We simply can’t operate in a vacuum and developing those relationships and keeping those relationships is very important and I think you’re the right person to do that so I appreciate that very much.

I also just want to make a comment too, I know that in the 2014 Farm Bill Congress really recognized the importance of trade and Congress directed the USDA to establish an undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs and I hope that you will take a look at that and make sure that we have the right person for that job established as well.

Thank you very much governor, it’s good to see you, and thank you, Mr. Chair.”