Sen. Thune on Perdue: 'He's experienced, he's a producer'

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is weighing in after Agriculture Secretary nominee, Sonny Perdue answered questions on Thursday before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Reporter, Samantha-Jo Roth caught up with the South Dakota Senator to get his reaction.

Roth:"Senator, today Sonny Perdue's confirmation hearing is happening, do you feel confident having him lead the USDA as Congress puts together the next farm bill?"

Sen. Thune: "He did a great job this morning. I had an opportunity to ask him questions about the next farm bill. I'm confident. He's experienced, he's a producer. He's raised commodities and livestock."

Roth: "Senator, a lot of these hearings focus on partisan issues. I know that's not necessarily the case with this hearing because lawmakers put forward more regional issues. Do you think Perdue will be able to serve the needs of farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, despite his southern roots?"

Sen. Thune: "I am. We will be watching very carefully to make sure that's the case. You're right, in the agriculture business it's not as much Republican versus Democrat, as much as north, west, east, south. So, we have to fight to make sure our part of the countries priorities are addressed."

Roth: "Trade is a major concern among farmers and ranchers these days, with the administration vowing to renegotiate NAFTA. Do you think Perdue will be able to stand up to the administration when these policies have negative impacts on farmers?"

Sen. Thune: "He expressed at least today, I thought a high level of independence. I think he's a smart guy. I think he's an accomplished person. He's got a lot of experience in the field when it comes to trade and agriculture. So, yes, and we will insist that he does. South Dakota agriculture can help feed the world and we want to make sure that it does and we will be following really carefully this administrations policies."