WASHINGTON —When Matt Coley left his job on Capitol Hill a few years back, he decided to return to his family’s decidedly un-Washington business of growing cotton and peanuts.
He now tends to roughly 3,400 acres about 45 minutes south of Bonaire, the Middle Georgia town called home by the soon-to-be most powerful man in agriculture.
That man is former Gov. Sonny Perdue, whom the Senate confirmed as the 31st secretary of agriculture on Monday.
Perdue’s ascent to the Cabinet thrills Coley.
“He knows the struggles that farmers deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Coley said of Perdue. “Having that perspective in D.C. would certainly be a benefit when decisions are having to be made.”
President Donald Trump’s selection of Perdue to be the country’s top agriculture official back in January drew notable approval from the often factionalized ag industry and senators from both parties — and only token opposition.
The enthusiasm has been particularly pronounced in Georgia. In the former veterinarian and agribusiness owner, many see a knowledgeable stakeholder who will not only stick up for rural America in a White House filled with city dwellers, but return their calls and support some of the state’s top crops.
But what it means for Georgia is a little more muddled.
It would undoubtedly mean a friendly face in Washington’s upper echelons, as well as a more direct line to the White House for many of Perdue’s Georgia allies. And while drafting policy exclusively favoring Georgia would be met with suspicion, Perdue will be stepping into a powerful bully pulpit.
But not everyone in the state thinks Perdue’s ascension would benefit Georgia.