It’s not an everyday occurrence for me to talk directly to a member of the POTUS’s cabinet, but I had that pleasure Oct. 7, 2019, when the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, came to Tennessee. It was a “town hall” style meeting with the Secretary mainly fielding questions from the audience after he gave a brief update on happenings within the USDA.

After a couple other folks had asked questions, I took the opportunity and went to the microphone myself, with the intent of trying to convey just how hard the lumber market in our area has been hit by the Chinese retaliatory tariffs.

He listened intently while I described the effects of the tariffs and as I gave some personal details of why that industry means so much to me and my family.

His reply was thoughtful, full of facts and detail about the odd place that forestry and lumber fall between the worlds of Agriculture and Commerce.
There was genuine concern about how it has affected many folks not only in TN, but around the country. What is the answer I truly wanted to hear? Probably not…… but honestly any answer to my area of concern, good or bad, would be incredibly complicated.

As I walked away from the microphone and continued to listen as he answered other questions from the audience, I developed an even deeper level of respect for the man.

How many people would stand before an audience like that, especially during some not great times in agriculture, and let folks ask questions without any knowledge of what was about to be said?

I also walked away feeling connected with Secretary Perdue in a rather interesting way: we’re both trained veterinarians trying our best in worlds that they didn’t teach us about in veterinary school!
– Nick Patterson

Monday was an incredible day for us. We had the honor and privilege of getting to attend a town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, on a beautiful farm in Nashville.

To say we were excited for this amazing opportunity would be an understatement. For Secretary Perdue to take the time to visit farmers to discuss the issues we are facing in agriculture was heartwarming and humbling.

We also had the chance to ask a question and I’m so unbelievably proud of my wonderful husband Nick for taking the opportunity to do so on behalf of our family of businesses and for the hardwood lumber industry.

It’s no secret that the Chinese tariffs have taken a toll on the hardwood lumber market, and sharing our concern for our livelihood with Secretary Perdue was amazing.

He had genuine concern and understanding and we believe things are hopefully in the works to help!

So incredibly thankful for our administration that have been so kind and willing to listen along with the wonderful organization that is like a second family to us, the TN Farm Bureau!

Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this event possible and a success.

– April Patterson

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