Montana Public Radio

Sonny Perdue

USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue (center) in Missoula to announce new USFS priorities June 12, 2020. Behind him: Chuck Roady, GM of F.H. Stoltze, Rep. Gianforte, USDA Undersecretary James Hubbard, Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott, RMEF Pres. Kyle Weaver
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

*UPDATED 06/13 

The U.S. Agriculture Secretary visited Missoula Friday to announce a blueprint to prioritize work for the U.S Forest Service.

Supporters say it will modernize the agency and cut unnecessary red tape. Opponents, however, counter it will undermine the nation’s laws aimed at protecting the environment.

Montana Sen.Steve Daines at a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee meeting in April 2018.
Courtesy Sen. Steve Daines

Senator Steve Daines put out a press release Tuesday saying he’s "building momentum" for the U.S. to re-join negotiations for the trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

In a White House meeting with Daines and other farm state lawmakers on April 13th President Trump made remarks that some interpreted as a potential policy change towards re-joining TPP talks. Pulling out of the trade agreement was one of Trump’s first actions after being elected, and he spoke strongly against it during his campaign.

Shortly after the April 13th meeting though, Trump tweeted that he would only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the one offered to President Obama.

Cattle.
(PD)

Plans President Donald Trump has made to place new tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum Thursday have rattled Montana’s agriculture sector. MTPR's Edward O’Brien has reaction from farmers and ranchers who fear they’ll be the first casualties of a new trade war.

From left to right, Rep. Greg Gianforte, Sen. Steve Daines, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during a visit to the Lolo Peak Fire operations center August 24, 2017.
Eric Whitney

Two extraordinary things happened at the incident command post for the Lolo Peak Fire Thursday. One, it rained a little. The National Weather Service said .01 inches of precipitation came down mid-day. Two, a pair of cabinet secretaries, a U.S. Senator, and Montana’s congressman visited.

Parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota are experiencing severe or extreme drought.
NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program land in the Dakotas and Montana in response to drought.

Perdue says that without alternative forage options, ranchers could be devastated economically. The emergency grazing is authorized to begin immediately, and extends through Sept. 30 unless conditions improve.

Hay field. File photo.
PD

Montana, especially rural Montana went big for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but a lot of farmers and ranchers disagree with him on big, multi-country trade deals.

"We're not going to roll over every time someone says 'boo' about us wanting to harvest timber to make a healthy forest," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said at a agriculture summit in Great Falls, MT July 1, 2017.
Eric Whitney

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was in Great Falls Thursday for an “agriculture summit” hosted by Senator Steve Daines. Perdue promised big changes at the U.S. Forest Service, which his department oversees. 

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaks during an agriculture conference in Great Falls, MT, June 1, 2017.
Courtesy @SecretarySunny Twitter feed

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke in Great Falls Thursday. Perdue suggested reforms for a couple of big safety net programs important to farmers.

Perdue has only been on the job as ag secretary since the end of April, and part of his job is to help President Trump push forward a budget that calls for big cuts in the Department of Agriculture.

Wheat field.
(PD)

New U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is in Montana today and tomorrow for an agriculture summit being put on in Great Falls by Republican Senator Steve Daines.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
PD

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Congress this week that American farmers are facing plenty of challenges and deep uncertainty.

“Our farm economy is down by about a 50-percent drop in net income from where it was in 2013 as you all were contemplating the ’14 Farm Bill" Perdue says. "We’ve got several members who – particularly younger farmers – have levered up in this situation where their revenue is not supporting their debt structure and they’re in some dire straits.” 

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