U.S. Secretary Perdue Visits With Nebraska Farmers

COLUMBUS – Nebraska farmers appear to be happy with their representation in Washington D.C.

U.S. Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue visited Alliance on Thursday, as a part of the Back to Our Roots Tour. The visit to Nebraska was a part of his fourth tour, and attendees asked Perdue about ethanol use in gas year round, regulations on artificially produced meat, and broadband connectivity in rural Nebraska.

Renewable Fuels Nebraska Executive Director Troy Bredenkamp thanked Perdue for his efforts in regards to ethanol, and asked that the approval for the year round use of E15 gas to be competed as soon as possible. Something Perdue says President Trump is pushing the EPA to approve.

“He has issued that direction to the administrator of the EPA. He’s the one that has that responsibility to do that, and we’re hoping to craft that rule as quickly as possible, as you indicated. I don’t know if we can get it in this summer’s driving season. Nothing happens that quickly in D.C., but that would be my goal if we could do that,” said Perdue.

Following the meeting Governor Pete Ricketts said this is a big push, that if passed soon, could mean millions of more bushels of corn being sold by U.S. Farmers.

“That’s a big deal for us, because we’re the second largest ethanol producing state in the country, and so a lot of the feedback we heard here is just see if we can’t get that expedited. The summer driving season starts June 1st, and the sooner the EPA can get that going, the better we’ll be,” said Ricketts.

Joni Jespersen, of Mobias Communications, asked Perdue what can be done for smaller broadband providers, who want to give better support to their local farmers. Jespersen says the large cooperations coverage maps show that their is signal in rural parts to Nebraska but says when you actually move through those locations, the connection is not there.

Perdue says the USDA was recently granted millions of dollars to help with projects like this.

“We hope to deploy that very quickly. We should see some of those applications be available early summer. Then we’ll work through the end of the year to get through those and get some awards out. Where we can begin to get service in some of these areas,” said Perdue.

Perdue was also asked about efforts on labeling artificially created meat products.

“It needs to be regulated, and labeled very correctly so people understand what they’re getting. Rather than some terminology where people thinking they’re getting good grown beef here in Nebraska or other states,” said Perdue.

Nebraska Ag Director Steve Wellman says attendees he spoke with after the meeting were happy with what Perdue was pushing for in Washington D.C.

“He’s very well informed on the issues that were brought up here today, for the questions from the crowd, I think Secretary Perdue knew what they were talking about right away, understood what they were talking about, to hopefully be able to take that back to Washington D.C. when he gets there to advance that measure further and provide some more answers,” says Wellman.