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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 15, 2018

U.S. Ag Secretary Perdue visits Iowa

Aug 07, 2017

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue posed for photographs, held rabbits, caught some plastic balls, geared up as a firefighter, and chatted with young people during his stop Sunday afternoon at the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport.

It was part of his five-state RV tour, titled the “Back to Our Roots” Tour that includes stops in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana.

The idea is to gather input on the 2018 Farm Bill and increasing rural prosperity. He has met farmers, ranchers, producers and students, governors, members of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees, and other stakeholders.

Unlike some stops where he held hosted discussion groups, he did not speak to the crowds en masse in Davenport.

During a brief media interview, he said he has enjoyed meeting with young people and others to learn about their concerns.

“I am hearing what the USDA is doing to help them and how it is hurting them,” he said.

Perdue said some issues brought up have been safety nets, crop insurance, trade and waterways.

He also talked about how farming has evolved.

“People don't realize how technology has advanced in agriculture today,” he said.

Perdue said he will take all the feedback back to Washington, D.C.

“USDA will be intimately involved as Congress deliberates and formulates the 2018 Farm Bill. We are committed to making the resources and the research available so that Congress can make good facts-based, data-driven decisions,” he said in a news release.

After Perdue’s visit to the Iowa Ag Summit on Saturday, DNC Midwest press secretary Mandy McClure issued a statement.

“Agriculture and food policies must address the needs and interests of farmers, rural communities and consumers,” she said. “Unfortunately, President Trump and Secretary Perdue have yet to implement effective policies to support the well-being of Iowa farmers."

At Sunday's event, Dennis Weih, a former farmer from Muscatine, said there are many challenges facing farmers today.

“Of course, the government is involved in pricing,” he said. “They want to keep the prices down, but it is getting more and more expensive for farmers to operate a small, family farm. They cannot survive.”

Perdue appeared to have fun Sunday. He picked up a piglet which immediately squealed loudly. He held a rabbit, and geared up in firefighter gear as part of a demonstration about agricultural-related rescue procedures.

Perdue also caught plastic balls launched by a small robot built by a team of students from Central High School in DeWitt.

That team has been part of the First Tech Challenge where teams from various schools compete with their own inventions.

“We built the robot from scratch,” said Jarred Carr of DeWitt. “It does a little bit of everything.”

Casey Lopez, another teammate, said she was thrilled to meet Perdue.

“It was very interesting, a good opportunity to show him what we do,” she said.

“You wouldn't expect him to come to a little fair like this,” added Jarred. “With 50 states and all those fairs, it is nice that he came here.”

Perdue also visited with members of the North Scott High School FFA, all of whom attending happened to be female.

“It was exciting,” said Andrea Kuffel, an agriculture teacher at North Scott. “The girls were giddy. He joked in asking if there were any boys in the group. We do have men in the program but just none of them were here today.”

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