President Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awaiting a vote in the Senate agriculture committee, which could come this week. Committee member Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is confident Perdue will ultimately be confirmed by the full Senate.
“Agriculture will have a big advocate in the Trump administration once Gov. Perdue is in place,” Grassley says.
Grassley’s obligation to chair the judiciary committee hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch kept him from attending much of Perdue’s time before the agriculture panel last week. But, Grassley heard Perdue’s opening statement and the nominee responded in writing to questions Grassley sent him.
Grassley says those answers left him with some reservations about the nominee’s commitment to ensuring competitive markets.
“His answer is not (as) strong (an) endorsement of the pending GIPSA rules as I would have liked to have heard from a new secretary,” Grassley says, “so that means that I need to make sure that he understands my position that these rules ought to go ahead.”
The GIPSA (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) rules would prevent large meat companies from certain contract practices that some say are unfair to farmers. Implementing the Obama-era rules was delayed after the Trump administration took office.
If Perdue clears the agriculture committee, he will still need approval from the full Senate. While that is possible in the coming week, it’s more likely the final vote won’t come until after the Senate’s April recess.