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Where’s Our U.S. Secretary of Agriculture?

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Two months ago to the day, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack abruptly stepped down a week before President Donald Trump assumed office. Trump tapped former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to assume that post, but Perdue has yet to even undergo the required Senate confirmation hearings. Why the delay?

Turns out, at least some of this delay can be attributed to Perdue himself. His paperwork was only filed late last week. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the paperwork had been held up for several weeks due to a “complication [that] appeared to be with the FBI,” which is in charge of conducting a comprehensive background check. Such background checks are customary for all cabinet member nominees.

Perdue also recently filed a public financial disclosure report and a letter to a USDA designated ethics official promising to resolve any “actual or apparent conflict of interest” regarding his various business and real estate holdings.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., talked with Mike Adams on AgriTalk March 10 about what else needs to happen for the confirmation hearing to occur.

“We still lack some other information from the FBI and I think from the ethics people,” he says. “That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong – it just means this paperwork drama has been drawn out way too long.”

Roberts stressed on AgriTalk the need for not only Perdue to get on board, but also for him to be able to make multiple appointments within USDA to get it back fully staffed. To drive home that point, Roberts says he’s recently spoken with Vice President Mike Pence about the severity of the four-state wildfire crisis currently playing out in the Great Plains and the critical role USDA can play in these situations.

Listen to the entire interview here:

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Senate committees typically announce such hearings a week in advance and tend to avoid Monday and Friday meetings, which means the week of March 20 is a solid bet.”

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