Agriculture, Technology

Agriculture Secretary To Do Swearing-In At Kanc

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will visit New Hampshire today as part of his second “Back to Our Roots” Tour to gather input on the 2018 Farm Bill.

During his time in the Granite State, he will hold a roundtable discussion in Wolfeboro with Gov. Chris Sununu this morning at 11 a.m. and swear in a new U.S. Forest Service chief at the Pemigewasset Overlook on the Kancamagus Highway at 3 p.m.

Along the way, Perdue will meet with farmers, ranchers, foresters, producers, students, governors, members of Congress, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees and other stakeholders.

Tony Tooke’s appointment as new chief of the U.S. Forest Service was announced by Perdue on Aug. 21.

Tooke succeeds Tom Tidwell of Boise, Idaho, who announced his retirement after a 40-year career on Aug. 18.

Perdue said in a prepared statement: “The Forest Service will be in good hands with the U.S. Forest Service’s own Tony Tooke, whose knowledge of forestry is unmatched.”

Tooke, Perdue said, “will oversee efforts to get our forests working again, to make them more productive, and to create more jobs. His focus will be on ensuring we are good neighbors and are managing our forests effectively, efficiently, and responsibly, as well as working with states and local governments to ensure the utmost collaboration.”

Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since age 18, including many assignments in Region 8 and the Washington Office.

His previous position in Washington, D.C., was Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System with oversight of Lands and Realty, Minerals and Geology, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, the National Partnership Office, and Business Administration and Support Services.

Prior to 2006, Tooke served as Deputy Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Florida as well as District Ranger assignments at the Talladega National Forest in Alabama, the Oconee National Forest in Georgia and the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi.

His other field assignments were Timber Management Assistant, Other Resource Assistant, Silviculturist and Forester on six Ranger Districts in Mississippi and Kentucky.

Tooke grew up on a small 200-acre farm in Detroit, Ala. He earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Mississippi State University. He was in the Forest Service’s inaugural class of the Senior Leadership Program, and he has completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.

“The Forest Service will be in good hands with the U.S. Forest Service’s own Tony Tooke, whose knowledge of forestry is unmatched.”

Perdue previously served as the 81st governor of Georgia from 2003- 2011.

In addition to Perdue’s planned events in New Hampshire today, his RV Tour also featured stops in Connecticut and Massachusetts on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, Perdue was scheduled to take part in a Connecticut Farm Bureau Farm Bill Listening Session with Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-Conn.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and up to 40 farmers and producers in Lebanon, Conn.

He later held a similar event in Northborough, Mass.

His day in New Hampshire is set to start at 8:20 a.m. with a tour of a hydroponic farm in Loudon with state Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Stuart Merrill in Loudon.

From there he will travel to Wolfeboro Town Hall for the “Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Task Force Listening Session” at 11 a.m. with Sununu and U.S. Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, along with local elected officials, industry leaders, farm bureau members, students, and local farmers.

At 3 p.m., Secretary Perdue will swear in Tooke with Pemigewasset Overlook on the Kancamagus Highway as the dramatic backdrop. Gov. Sununu and USFS employees will be in attendance.

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