Sec. Perdue stops in Michigan to tout USDA website

Melissa Hart, Freelance Writer
From left: Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business; USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue; Jesse Vollmar, CEO of FarmLogs; and Governor Rick Snyder.

ANN ARBOR, MI -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue travelled through Michigan, touting the new USDA interactive one-stop website for farmers and listening to the concerns of agricultural stakeholders in the state. 
Michigan Farm Bureau began the day hosting Perdue for breakfast where he unveiled new USDA website, This website gathers together the three agencies that comprise USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area: The Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency. 
The Michigan Turkey Producers gave Perdue a tour of a turkey processing facility before he went to Zoetis with Michigan Governor Snyder for a townhall meeting. 
He and Snyder concluded their day with a presentation at FarmLogs in Ann Arbor and a round table discussion with several of Michigan’s agricultural stakeholders including those representing grain marketing, milk production, ag lending, precision ag, sugar beet production, organic producers and soybean growers. 
After each participant offered their concerns about agriculture and short on time, Secretary Perdue addressed infrastructure from a broadband perspective saying he was excited about the interest that was expressed over the importance of rural broadband networks. He also related that good productivity in precision agriculture is dependent on technology and data gathering with access to good broadband. “Broadband will be a huge push for us and we have been intimately involved in those discussions on the infrastructure bill,” Perdue commented. 
Perdue also discussed the infrastructure bill that Trump is wanting Congress to develop in 2018, as it relates to the permitting process. “The best thing about the infrastructure bill is that the goal of the President, and I believe as a former governor I would take this over the money, is shortening the permitting process.” Perdue continued, “With the things that have taken five, seven, ten, fifteen years to get permitted, the goal of this administration is to constrict that within two years. Time is money when it comes to projects.”
Perdue touched on renewable fuels saying that while it is a goal of the USDA to help grow the renewable fuel demand, he conveyed he was very disappointed in the meeting with corn growers and the Renewable Fuels Association regarding their inflexibility in their long-term vision of what’s happening in the industry. “I understand the ethanol industry has been on the defense for years with people trying to nibble away at it, but it’s time for people to look forward to the vision of no volume mandates and you better be winning some friends and fellow conservatives in that process and looking at how it can grow,” Perdue commented.
When Perdue unveiled the new USDA website he said, “As I’ve traveled to 32 states in my first nine months as Secretary of Agriculture, I have consistently heard people express a desire for greater use of technology in the way we deliver programs at USDA,” Perdue said. “It’s my goal to make USDA the most effective, most efficient, most customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and is a big step in that direction.”

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, together with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder participated in a roundtable discussion about issues in Michigan agriculture.