U.S. Ag Secretary talks regulations at Delaware State Fair [video]

 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue talks outside at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue talks outside at the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Trump cabinet member Sonny Perdue spent Monday morning talking to farmers and touring the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.

In addition to holding a cabbage as big as his head and taking pictures with some young future farmers, Perdue held a roundtable meeting with a group of Delaware farmers. All three members of Delaware’s congressional delegation also attended the meeting. 

Perdue said he talked to farmers about what they felt the federal Dept. of Agriculture does well and what it could do better. “The most important people were upstairs today, the actual producers and those involved in conservation, those involved in the environment and those involved in producing the great abundant food supply that we have,” Perdue said.

Standing outside the fair’s administrative building following the meeting, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D- Delaware, said the group also talked about regulations coming from Washington and how they impact growers in the state. Farmers suggested lawmakers be aware of the amount of paperwork specific regulations require them to generate, and to be aware of duplicate regs coming from separate agencies. “There’s a great example of a duplication between a law that we have that governs a use of pesticides, it falls within the EPA, it also falls within the Dept. of Ag,” Carper said. “It only needs to be in one.”

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“When regulations are clear, they’re understandable, people are relatively compliant,” Perdue said. “When we cloud them, that’s when we have compliance issues.”

U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Delaware, is the first member of the Delaware delegation on an agriculture committee in a century. She said the roundtable represented all the things that are strong and important in Delaware. “The most important thing was to have the secretary himself here, to witness, to ask questions, and to drill down on issues as we prepare for the next farm bill,” she said. 

Perdue had praise for how Delaware agriculture has addressed runoff. He said Delaware can be a model for other parts of the nation in how it has dealt with runoff from farms into the Chesapeake Bay watershed. “It’s been probably 10, 15 or 20 years that famers here have recognized [their impact] on the water quality issue in the Chesapeake Bay, what they’ve done with best management practices.” He said farmers in the Great Lakes region should look at what Delaware has done as an example.

While the three Democrats representing Delaware in Washington have been very critical of the Trump administration, Carper said Perdue’s visit exemplifies how the delegation can work together with the administration. “What we have here today is a great example of communicating, cooperating and collaborating,” Carper said. 

The state fair runs through July 29.

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