Perdue: "You can't pay the bills with patriotism"

Published: Oct. 25, 2018 at 11:52 PM CDT
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U-S Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says he's told the White House that the trade war with China needs to end as soon as possible.

Secretary Perdue spent a good portion of this day talking with South Dakota farmers about trade and tariffs and their bottom lines.

We met up with the secretary in Brandon to get his thoughts on what comes next.

Secretary Perdue spent part of Thursday morning holding a town hall of sorts on a farm in Lennox accompanied by the state's congressional delegation.

One of the topics was work on the federal level to help state producers diversify their products even more and make more money along the way.

That includes the Trump Administration's recent approval of the year round sale of E-15 gasoline. Senator Mike Rounds says, "Huge for Corn producers in South Dakota. This is a major step forward for ag production in our state."

But it must go beyond that, farmers say and Secretary Perdue acknowledges.

As does Senator John Thune. "And that's trade policy, that's obviously renewable fuels, it's a new farm bill."

From Lennox, Secretary Perdue went to the Brandon Valley Intermediate School to talk with students about political life and political decisions and for Perdue that included the recent move by the administration for the U-S-D-A to administer $12 billion in funds to American farmers whose finances have taken a hit by the ongoing trade war with China. Secretary Perdue says, "We knew that the tariffs...the retaliatory tariffs....had affected the prices they were receiving. So to his credit I went to President Trump and he said we're going to take care of the farmers and that's what he did, that's what he authorized and that's what we're doing."

Perdue was accompanied on his Brandon swing by Congresswoman Kristi Noem, who has made her attention to farm policy part of her gubernatorial bid. "We need better trade agreements. That's the president's goal. That's my goal. But we need to wrap it up quickly."

And in the vein of wrapping this trade war up quickly and ending the financial pain so many farmers are facing, I asked Secretary Perdue how much pressure can he realistically place on the White House?

Perdue says he has been respectful in his conversations with the president but that he has also been persistent. "One of the phrases I've used to the president is that farmers are great patriots. They embody the American spirit. But you can't pay the bills with patriotism."