This week, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. During his two terms as governor, Purdue led efforts and initiatives that will impact the forestry community for generations.
A native Georgian, Perdue served 10 years beginning in 1991 as State Senator. In 2003, he became Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, and he was reelected in 2006. Perdue, a veterinarian and longtime supporter of forestry and agriculture in Georgia, most recently served on Trump’s agricultural advisory committee during his presidential campaign. His selection, which completed Trump’s cabinet nominations, must be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, which only requires a simple majority to confirm nominations.
Following his nomination, Andres Villegas, president and CEO of the Georgia Forestry Association, welcomed the news of his Perdue’s new position: “As one of Georgia’s most influential leaders in the modern era, we are very pleased with Governor Perdue’s nomination to become our next USDA Secretary. We look forward to his leadership as we seek to enhance the future of forestry in Georgia and the United States.”
A History of Support for Private Forestlands
During the fall of 2007, the Georgia Forestry Association (GFA) approached then Gov. Perdue to discuss inequities that existed in the ad valorem taxation of Georgia forest lands as compared to surrounding states. As a result of that meeting and Purdue’s leadership, in November 2008, a successful constitutional amendment campaign led to successful passage of the Forest Land Protection Act of 2008 (FLPA). This critical piece of legislation lifted a significant tax burden from Georgia’s forest landowners.
FLPA, sponsored and championed by Rep. Richard Royal (R-Camilla), created a property valuation classification of forestland to expand the conservation use property tax program (CUVA) created in 1990. The legislation, which has no acreage cap, allows property owners and businesses to put their property into a covenant for at least 15 years and to receive a lower tax burden for as long as the land is kept in a complying use.
FLPA has been equally important to conserving threatened forestland by creating a system that allowed owners of large working forests to protect them from being cold and fragmented as a result from out-of-control property taxes. Today, thousands of acres have remained in forestland thanks to the tax relief provided by this legislation.
Since 2008, FLPA has saved forest landowners millions of dollars in ad valorem taxes and brought about fairness, competitiveness and equity to Georgia’s tax code. Perdue, always searching for ways to make Georgia more competitive and a leader in the agricultural industry, made a simple request and competitiveness and fairness in ad valorem taxation was achieved.
A Warm Welcome from the Forestry Community
Following his two terms as Governor of Georgia, Perdue focused his attention on developing Perdue Partners — an Atlanta-based global trading company that facilitates U.S. commerce focusing on the export of U.S. agricultural and food related products. is friends and colleagues with the forestry community are highly supportive of his nomination.
Joe Hopkins, President, Toledo Manufacturing
“During his tenure as governor of the state of Georgia, Governor Sonny Perdue was a supporter and effective advocate for the forest business. One example was his leadership in having the Forest Land Protection Act signed into law. He will bring to this position his understanding that forestry is inclusive within the term ‘agriculture’ rather than exclusive. I know that all Georgia forest landowners are as pleased as I am that President-elect Trump has chosen him to lead the Department of Agriculture.”
Wesley Langdale, President, The Langdale Company
“Congratulations to Governor Perdue on his nomination as USDA Secretary. No one is better suited to fill the position. As someone who values the working forests of this country, Governor Perdue understands the fundamental connection between rural jobs and the timber economy. We look forward to working with him on policies that support all the many benefits that working forests provide to our great nation.”
Tom Martin, President & CEO, American Forest Foundation
“We look forward to working with Governor Perdue on the upcoming Farm Bill, tackling the wildfire challenges we face in our nation’s forests, and other initiatives that will grow rural jobs and economies while also sustaining our forests and the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies these lands provide to all Americans.”
Former House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Royal (R-Camilla)
“During my time serving in the General Assembly, Governor Perdue was a reliable advocate for Georgia’s working forests. He played a crucial role in encouraging policies like the Forest Land Protection Act into fruition that have made Georgia’s forestry economy as strong as it is today. Governor Perdue’s commitment to our state’s forestry industry and agriculture economy are second to none, and it was an honor to work side-by-side with him on these issues.”
Blake Sullivan, President, Sullivan Forestry Consultants, Inc.
“Governor Perdue has strong roots in forestry and agriculture. His leadership and support related to timberland taxation through the Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) program and the Forest Land Protection Act (FLPA) have positively impacted our ability to grow and manage timberland for generations. I am confident that he will continue his support for private forest landowners and forest product industries in his new role as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture.”