The U.S. Senate has voted to confirm former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue at the 31st Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Senate voted 87-11 in his favor, reports the New York Times.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Perdue will help facilitate recovery in small American towns.

"I know he will put the needs of farmers, ranchers and others in rural America first," Roberts said.

Associations in the meat and poultry industry applauded the confirmation. Barry Carpenter, CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said that his experience as a farmer and veterinarian will be valuable in his new role as he works on behalf of U.S. agriculture.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Perdue to ensure the safety of the nation's meat and poultry supply, expand trade opportunities around the world and to address the challenges facing our industry,” Carpenter said.

The National Turkey Institute issued a statement expressing its approval.

“Secretary Perdue brings to the job executive experience from his tenure as Georgia’s governor, a background in family farming and a special knowledge of poultry and meat production that comes with being a veterinarian.  NTF and its members are looking forward to his real-world approach to agriculture. He understands that agriculture is the foundation of our nation and that, given a strong economic environment; America has an unmatched capacity to help feed a hungry world,” the group said.

Sonny Perdue has been involved in the agriculture industry throughout his life and is the son of a farmer from Bonaire, Ga. The USDA has posted the following, regarding his beliefs and goals for the Department:

“Perdue’s policies as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be guided by four principles which will inform his decisions. First, he will maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper.  Second, he will prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers.  They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity.  Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, USDA will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established.  Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist.  And fourth, Perdue will always remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land.  And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe.  Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.

“Additionally, Perdue recognizes that American agriculture needs a strong advocate to promote its interests to international markets.  The United States is blessed to be able to produce more than its citizens can consume, which implies that we should sell the bounty around the world.  The relationship between the USDA and its trade representatives, as well as with the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce, will be vital.  The work of promoting American agricultural products to other countries will begin with those relationships and will benefit us domestically, just as it will fulfill the moral imperative of helping to feed the world.  Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

Sources: USDA, New York Times, NAMI, NTF