Press Releases

Warner Meets with Nominee for Secretary of Agriculture

Warner presses Gov. Sonny Perdue on key Virginia agricultural priorities on trade, food access, and labor

Mar 06 2017


WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (R-GA) as the Senate considers his nomination to be Secretary of Agriculture. In their meeting, Sen. Warner questioned Gov. Perdue about his plans to grow and support the agricultural industry in Virginia, and discussed issues important to Virginia farmers and producers, including trade, improving access to healthy food in rural areas, and improvements to the program that brings lawful foreign labor into the country.

“I had a productive conversation with Governor Perdue where I shared some of the top priorities for Virginian farmers and ranchers. Virginia relies heavily on trade, and maintaining a good relationship with global partners like Cuba, which in 2015 bought $42 million of Virginia agricultural products, is vital for our industry to continue to grow and prosper,” said Sen. Warner. “Similarly, I urged the Governor to, if confirmed, use his role to ensure the H-2A visa program, which brings lawful and needed work to American farms, is maintained and improved so Virginia can keep its edge in this industry.”

Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry, accounting for an economic impact of $52 billion annually and supporting 311,000 jobs here in the Commonwealth. Virginia also boasts one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in the nation, as a top producer of commodities and products like leaf tobacco (3rd-biggest producer in the country), fresh market tomatoes (5th), apples (6th), grapes and peanuts (8th) and cotton (15th). Livestock rankings based on number of heads in the nation include turkeys (6th) and broilers (10th). There are more than 45,000 farms across the state, and production agriculture employs 55,000 farmers and workers, generating $3.3 billion in capital for the Commonwealth.

“In addition, I discussed with Gov. Perdue the important role the Agriculture Secretary has in expanding healthy food options in rural communities and feeding hungry kids,” added Warner. “I received assurances from him to support ongoing work in the department to eradicate so-called ‘food deserts’ that preclude families from accessing the nourishment they need to keep them healthy and prevent severe health conditions down the road.”

Gov. Perdue is currently in the process of submitting his nomination paperwork to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Once this information is received, a confirmation hearing will be scheduled for him in the coming weeks followed by a vote in committee and – if approved—a vote before the full U.S. Senate.