Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is currently touring rural America on his “Back to Our Roots” RV tour. The goal is to gather public input on how to restore prosperity to rural America as well as get insights on what rural Americans want and need in the new Farm Bill. Perdue says it’s been an interesting experience for him to tour through the Upper Midwest, which got started in Wisconsin.
Perdue answered a variety of questions during a Monday morning conference call with reporters. One question involved a California case in which a nursery owner named John Duarte stands accuses of violating the Clean Water Act by illegally filling in a wetland when he plowed it for wheat. The litigation began when President Obama was in office and Duarte is looking at $2.8 million in fines. Perdue says he’s aware of the case and will be looking into it further when he returns to Washington.
He says this case could potentially send a chill over farmers across the country if they could face civil and criminal penalties for normal agricultural practices.
The upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations are on the Secretary’s radar as well. He tells reporters he’ll be involved in the negotiations, saying while NAFTA has been a big benefit for American agriculture, there are some issues that need to be worked out.
His main message for negotiators is ‘do no harm to agriculture and don’t hurt American farmers’.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.