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Ag Secretary Perdue visits Colorado

As part of his fourth Back to Our Roots tour of the nation, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made several stops in Colorado, starting with Hirakata Farms in Rocky Ford, as he made his way across four Western states May 14-17.

After leaving New Mexico Monday, Secretary Perdue, his wife, Mary, Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown and USDA employees as well as a representative of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner visited the family-owned-and-run cantaloupe, watermelon and melon farm’s packing facility and fields. Michael Hirakata, his wife, Rhonda, and several family members led the farm tour.hirakataHirakata Farms GM Michael Hirakata, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Colorado Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown.

During the Rocky Ford visit the Secretary Perdue commented on what he said are among the most critical issues facing the industry -- labor, food safety and trade. The secretary said currently his office is working to create an online portal to facilitate the multi-agency H-2A application process. Regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act, he said work is being done to streamline certification.

Secretary Perdue also noted ongoing negotiations with the Mexico Department of Agriculture regarding exports of Colorado potatoes and other items to that country.

The secretary’s itinerary for Colorado included a stop in Colorado Springs at a food distribution center, a town hall luncheon at the USDA facility in Denver, with Commissioner Brown and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also scheduled to attend. Additional stops were slated for northern Colorado and then in Wyoming and Nebraska.

During different segments of the tour, Secretary Perdue will be joined by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico Ag Secretary Jeff Witte, Wyoming Ag Director Doug Miyamoto and Nebraska Director of Ag Steve Wellman.

“This tour is another great chance to escape Washington and meet face-to-face with America’s farmers, ranchers, producers and foresters,” Secretary Perdue said in a prepared statement. “We want to take our message directly to the American people and give them an opportunity to express their ideas and concerns. As Congress and the administration continue their work on important issues like rural infrastructure, trade and the farm bill, USDA stands ready to give the agriculture community a voice.”

On his first tour in August 2017 Secretary Perdue toured Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In September 2017 he traveled to Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In early April Secretary Perdue visited Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.