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Former Georgia Governor Recalls First Year as USDA Leader

GEORGIA Magazine's April 2018 cover story features Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue, the first Georgian to lead the USDA. His first year has found him in both new and familiar territories. Among the new: riding shotgun in a Blackhawk helicopter over flooded Texas cotton fields. The familiar: visiting farmers and ranchers to hear their stories and concerns.

Last summer, Perdue and his team traveled through the Midwest via RV on what they called the “Back to our Roots” tour. They talked with food producers, students and stakeholders to prepare for the USDA’s input on the 2018 Farm Bill. He says the “listening tours” give him the opportunity to hear straight talk from rural people.

“They are the ones on the front lines of American agriculture, and they know best what the current issues are,” Perdue says.

The former Georgia governor visited the front lines himself in September, accompanying Texas congressional leaders in a helicopter to survey agricultural damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

It’s just another way he’s gotten his new administration off the ground.

Perdue was sworn in April 25, 2017, as the nation’s 31st U.S. secretary of agriculture. Fellow Georgian and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas officiated in a ceremony at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. That morning, Perdue introduced his official USDA Twitter handle: @SecretarySonny.

Read about how this former governor and current Flint Energies member plans to pursue his new role overseeing one of the nation’s largest federal departments at

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