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Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will hold a town hall with University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green to open the Nebraska State Fair.

The town hall, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 23 in the Raising Nebraska exhibit hall on the State Fairgrounds in Grand Island, is scheduled as part of several events commemorating the 150th anniversary of UNL's charter this year.

Perdue, a two-time governor of Georgia tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the USDA in 2017, will field questions from farmers, ag stakeholders and fair attendees at the event.

The ag secretary has visited Nebraska multiple times while in office.

In 2017, Perdue led a roundtable discussion with Sen. Deb Fischer at her ranch in Cherry County, and last year appeared at an event in Alliance with Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Next week's town hall comes amid a deepening trade war between the U.S. and China that saw the Asian country cut off all imports of American agricultural goods last week.

To compensate for the mounting losses from the trade war, the USDA has given $16 billion in aid to farmers last year, and set up other government programs to help them.

Perdue’s visit also comes about two weeks after a joke he told in front of thousands of Minnesota farmers drew rebuke, according to Agri-Pulse, a farm news outlet.

"I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania," said Perdue, who grew up farming. "He said, 'What do you call two farmers in a basement?' I said 'I don't know, what do you call them?'"

“A whine cellar,” the joke concluded, to a mixture of laughs and boos from the audience.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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Higher education reporter

Chris Dunker covers higher education, state government and the intersection of both.

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