87 to 11 in favor of Perdue, who takes office as the
agricultural community grapples with the key issues of trade and
The nomination earlier passed the Senate Agriculture Committee
with only one vote in opposition, although some Midwestern
senators raised concerns that Perdue was not from a major
agricultural production state.
Trump nominated Perdue, 70, in January but progress on his
confirmation was slow, with media reports suggesting that
undoing his various business entanglements caused delays in the
Perdue did not file his disclosure forms until mid-March, and
the Senate panel backed him later that month.
Trade is seen as critical to reviving a moribund farm economy,
where incomes have been falling with lower grain prices. Farm
incomes in 2016 are expected to have hit their lowest levels
Agriculture relies heavily on seasonal and casual labor, and
farmers are concerned tough immigration rules could make it
harder to find workers while raising costs. Trump has raised
tensions on immigration with his pledge to build a wall at the
Perdue, who holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine and was
raised on a dairy farm, is the first agriculture secretary from
a southern state since Mike Espy of Mississippi, who served from
January 1993 to December 1994. Perdue's home state of Georgia
accounted for just 2 percent of total U.S. agriculture exports
Trump still has one Cabinet nominee, Alexander Acosta for labor
secretary, awaiting confirmation.
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago and Eric Beech in
Washington; Editing by Susan Heavey and Andrew Hay)
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