Trump to Name Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary

Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will name former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his nominee for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, a senior transition official said on Wednesday.

Perdue, 70, served on Trump's agricultural advisory committee during his presidential campaign. His nomination, which must be confirmed by the Republican-led Senate, will complete Trump's proposed Cabinet just two days before he is sworn in as president on Friday.

During his time as governor, Perdue's key agricultural issues included water management and making changes to the tax code that were beneficial to farmers, said Jeffrey Harvey, legislative director for the Georgia Farm Bureau.

In 2007, with Georgia and other areas of the South hit by a severe drought, Perdue took steps to cut water usage in his state and at one point led a service outside the state capitol to pray for rain.

Perdue, a Republican, was elected to two terms as governor, serving from 2003 to 2011. Before that, he served in the state Senate representing a rural swath of the state about 100 miles (160 km) south of Atlanta. He switched political parties from Democratic to Republican in 1998 amid redistricting in the state and shifting demographics.

Like Trump, Perdue swept into office buoyed by rural white voters who had grown disenchanted with politics in a Southern state that like the country at large has seen its politics deeply divided between more conservative rural areas and more liberal urban ones.

Trump received strong support from the agricultural community as the farm economy slumped amid falling prices for key commodities such as corn and wheat.

After finishing his second term as governor, Perdue founded Perdue Partners, a global trading firm that consults and provides services for companies looking to export products.

His cousin David Perdue, a fellow Republican, is serving his first term representing Georgia in the U.S. Senate. The nominee is not related to chicken magnate Frank Perdue.