Agriculture secretary first Cabinet member to break with Trump, saying ‘shutdown needs to end’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - APRIL 25: (AFP-OUT) Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue listens as US President Donald speaks during a roundtable with farmers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on April 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. During the meeting Trump signed the Executive Order Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue

Farmers have not gotten the same special treatment during Donald Trump’s shutdown as hunters, drillers, loggers, and mortgage lenders have. Instead, they were hung out to dry, writes Axios.

The Farm Service Agency has run out of funding, which has forced [Agriculture Secretary Sonny] Perdue to work with the Office of Management and Budget to try getting farmers loans. Subsidies set aside for farmers hit by President Trump’s tariffs have been suspended during the shutdown.

On Monday, Perdue became the administration’s first Cabinet secretary willing to say what others won’t about the shutdown, telling Fox Business,”The shutdown needs to end, that’s the real answer.”

Farmers already hit by Trump’s tariff war have taken a double hit with Trump’s shutdown. Some payments from the $12 billion in bailout funding approved by Trump have been delayed, loan applications have ground to a halt, and farmers trying to plan which seeds to buy for next year’s crop are waiting on a report from the USDA detailing agricultural production in 2018 and forecasting supply and demand for 2019.

“This is real,” Jeff Witte, president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, told the New York Times. “You had farmers who were in the process of closing a loan or getting an operating loan. Now there’s nobody there to service those.”

Trump traveled to New Orleans Monday (not Nashville, as he tweeted) to speak at the American Farm Bureau convention. As the Times reported, farmers have been a loyal Trump constituency, but they have been repeatedly pummeled by his policies. 

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