Is Sonny Perdue’s Nomination as Secretary of Agriculture a Good Choice for farm Animals and the Environment?

Photo by wallyir at

By Erin Thompson

Because Donald Trump appears to select the members of his cabinet by determining who would best represent the opposite for which the position stands, SNL performed a skit starring Bryan Cranston in his notorious role as Walter White chosen as the Head of the DEA.  In this case, who would be best at preventing the distribution of illegal narcotics in the U.S?  An infamous drug-dealer is clearly the best choice. For Secretary of Education, it would be best to select someone who has had no prior experience in education or who does not possess a post-secondary degree in education.  In dealing with Agriculture, what clearer choice than that of a man who grew up on a farm and later became a veterinarian?  Did Trump get it right this time?

Mr. Perdue did indeed grow up on a farm.  But his decision to become a veterinarian may not have been a result of his strong devotion to the care and protection of animals.  As Governor of Georgia, he successfully pushed for the expansion of factory farms.  Also, as governor, he openly opposed the Clean Air Act, which seeks to control air pollution.  In addition to land and water pollution, factory farming is one of the major contributors to air pollution.  Perdue would therefore have needed to eliminate one in order to retain the other.

Although he has no family relation to Jim Perdue of Perdue Farms, there still exists a solid bond between the two.  According to a Press Release in 2005, “Governor Sonny Perdue announced . . . that Perdue Farms would significantly expand its Georgia operations by growing its existing facilities in Houston and Monroe counties, bringing 1,000 new jobs and a total investment of $155 million to the state.”  As governor he aimed at increasing employment and benefiting the community.  Ultimately, by the end of this expansion, the company had added a total of 1,700 new jobs and contracted for more than 600 new poultry houses since taking over operation of the Perry plant.

Perdue has 14 food-processing facilities in the U.S. and produces about 50 million pounds of chicken and turkey products each week.  The growth of Perdue Farms in Georgia can be attributed partly to the nominee for Secretary of Agriculture.  His dedication to the systematic slaughter of chickens has created large amounts of revenue for the affluent as well as poor citizens of Georgia.

On a lighter note, the former governor was responsible for some positive changes that affected the lives of domesticated animals.  According to Michael Markarian from the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in 2008, “he signed a law that was strongly backed by the HSUS and HSLF to make dogfighting a felony and close loopholes on owning fighting dogs and being a dogfighter spectator.”  In addition, as governor, Sonny Perdue dedicated his personal time to “raise awareness for the spaying and neutering of pets” while supporting the efforts of the Humane Society to reduce the overpopulation of dogs and cats in the state of Georgia.  As a former veterinarian, he encouraged pet owners to take action by having their own pets spayed and/or neutered.  And, “in 2010, Perdue also signed a bill banning the use of gas chambers to euthanize shelter pets.”

Does Sonny Perdue’s nomination contradict what the position itself should ideally represent or will the former governor surprise us by transferring his generosity toward domesticated animals to the millions of farm animals whom he will now oversee as Secretary of Agriculture?  Only time will tell.

Please consider becoming a volunteer for the Humane Party to help bring about a more compassionate world.