Trump taps veterinarian, former governor, as ag secretary

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Veterinarian and former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Agriculture Department. Trump announced his final Cabinet selection Jan. 19, a day before being sworn into office, promising Dr. Perdue “will deliver big results for all Americans who can earn a living off the land.”

Dr. Sonny Perdue
Dr. Sonny Perdue

At press time in early February, a date for Dr. Perdue’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee had not been set.

Dr. George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue III was born in Perry, Georgia, to a farmer and schoolteacher in 1946. After graduating from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1971, he served in the Air Force until 1974, retiring as a captain. After a brief stint practicing veterinary medicine in Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Perdue returned to Georgia and became a successful small-business owner in agribusiness and transportation.

Dr. Perdue began his political career in 1990 when he was elected as a Democrat to the Georgia State Senate, serving as the Democratic majority leader from 1995-1996. Two years later, he switched to the Republican Party. He resigned from the state Senate in 2001 to run for governor and was elected the following year with 51 percent of the vote, making him Georgia’s first Republican governor since 1877, when the Reconstruction period ended.

(Dr. Sonny Perdue) will deliver big results for all Americans who can earn a living off the land.

President Donald Trump

Four years later, he was re-elected by nearly a 60 percent majority. Dr. Perdue left the Georgia governor’s house at the end of his term in 2011.