We’ve got some catching up to do (Editorial)

(May 2, 2017) On April 24, the nation finally got a new USDA secretary.
On that day, almost four months after President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Sonny Perdue III as the secretary of agriculture.
Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, had been reported to be Trump’s choice for the post, but he had to stand aside while the new administration dealt with other challenges of its first 100 days.
Even at that, his confirmation drew little attention in the media.
It was the farm organizations, as one would expect, that announced — and applauded — the seating of the new cabinet member.
The National Corn Growers Association, for example, declaring that USDA has been without a secretary for too long, noted there is some catching up to do.
“We are ready to partner with Secretary Perdue and the rest of the administration,” the NCGA pledged, “to build a better farm economy. That begins with strong trade policy and continued investment in renewable fuels. “It also means protecting risk management programs during a weak economy, and beginning preparations for the next Farm Bill.”
Moving quickly in that direction, the White House, with Perdue now at the USDA helm, moved quickly to appoint a task force to address the challenges facing America’s farmers.
According to an executive order issued by the White House, the task force, to be led by Perdue, will “identify policy areas where executive branch agencies can take action to improve economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security, and quality of life for rural America and U.S. farmers.”
Alarmingly, with that demanding agenda, the USDA remains critically understaffed.
There are still more than 200 political appointments at USDA that have yet to be made, the NCGA said, strongly urging the administration to move quickly to begin filling these positions.
We suspect — and lament the fact — that President Trump does not yet clearly hear the voice of agriculture.
Let’s hope that Sonny Perdue can get his ear.