Idaho hosts Secretary Sonny Perdue and Secretary Ryan Zinke

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From Capital Press, Written by Sean Ellis

Farmers and ranchers described a private meeting with two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet members June 2 as unprecedented and historic.

Instead of addressing the group, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke listened and took notes, according to those who were there.

“They just didn’t have an agenda. They truly wanted to listen to us,” said Aberdeen potato farmer Ritchey Toevs.

They covered a wide range of topics, from immigration and the importance of labor to aquifer recharge, Food Safety Modernization Act requirements, NAFTA, the U.S. Sheep Experiment station in Dubois, invasive water species, farm bill funding, the Endangered Species Act, Equal Access to Justice Act and grazing and other federal land-management issues.

The meeting was set up by Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould and kept on track by Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican rancher.

“They sat there for a solid hour and listened to 10 different producers,” Otter told the Capital Press. “In every case, both the secretaries ended up with one question — ‘What can we do to help you?’ That’s refreshing.”

Gould’s intent was to have producers from Idaho’s major farm industries “talk directly to the secretaries rather than being represented by somebody else or having that information filtered,” said ISDA spokeswoman Chanel Tewalt.

gould zinke perdue at boise state university event

After the ag producer meeting, Secretary Perdue and Secretary Zinke met at Boise State University for a large but informal session where they spoke and took questions from the audience. To read the full article on the Capital Press website, click here.