Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) has voiced her support for President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Heitkamp — who serves on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry — stressed the importance of a strong 2018 Farm Bill and safety net programs for American farmers during a meeting with Perdue on Monday.

UND Human Nutrition Research Center | Sen. Heidi Heitkamp toured the University of North Dakota’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, which is authorized by the Farm Bill, and talked about the importance of passing a Farm Bill.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Democratic senator also said her discussions with Perdue highlighted trade opportunities with Cuba.

“Meeting with nominees one-on-one helps me lay out North Dakota’s priorities to potential cabinet heads,” Heitkamp said. “After meeting with Gov. Perdue today, I look forward to confirming him to his important post and working with him to get results for North Dakota farmers and ranchers.”

As a member of the Senate ag committee, Heitkamp played a key role in writing, negotiating and passing the $956 billion 2014 Farm Bill.

The agriculture bill directs government spending on conservation and commodity programs, crop insurance and federal nutrition packages. About 80 percent of the Farm Bill’s cost funds food stamps.

“At today’s meeting, I reinforced the need for a strong Farm Bill in 2018, which is my top priority in the U.S. Senate,” Heitkamp said.

Monday’s announcement from Heitkamp adds to a growing list of influential agriculture players to back Perdue.

The former Georgia governor has received support from both the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Perdue is also the only Trump administration nominee to win support from his Obama administration predecessor.

Former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced his support for Perdue early last week.

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