Trump Aims to Ease Farming Regulations

(CN) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order directing his new agriculture secretary to identify and eliminate what Trump says are unnecessary regulations that hurt farmers and rural communities.

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue was sworn in as Trump’s agriculture secretary earlier in the day.

The order also establishes a new task force charged with reviewing policies, legislation and regulations that unnecessarily hinder agricultural and economic growth.

Trump said the order is part of his effort to make life easier for working Americans.

Perdue won confirmation on a strong bipartisan vote of 87-11, as several Democrats backed a Trump nominee after razor-thin outcomes for his choices earlier this year. Perdue’s cousin, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., voted “present” but presided over the vote and announced the final tally.

The son of a farmer from Bonaire, Georgia, Sonny Perdue will be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. He has owned several agricultural businesses, but isn’t related to or affiliated with the food company Perdue or the poultry producer Perdue Farms.

At his confirmation hearing in March, Perdue assured nervous farm-state senators that he will advocate for rural America, even as Trump has proposed deep cuts to some farm programs. He also promised to reach out to Democrats.

Still, Perdue, 70, is getting a late start on the job. Trump nominated him just two days before his inauguration, and then the nomination was delayed for weeks as the administration prepared his ethics paperwork. Perdue eventually said he would step down from several companies bearing his name to avoid conflicts of interest.

As agriculture secretary, he’ll be in charge of around 100,000 employees and the nation’s food and farm programs, including agricultural subsidies, conservation efforts, rural development programs, food safety and nutrition programs such as food stamps and federally-subsidized school meals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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