The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture is touting the work of Purdue University. Sonny Perdue visited the West Lafayette campus Tuesday to meet with President Mitch Daniels, as well as students and faculty. It was one of several stops in Indiana for Perdue, who also visited the National FFA Center and Second Helpings Inc. in Indianapolis.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Perdue called the university an "icon of a land grant university."
"It’s renowned throughout the world through their nutrition studies and we saw some other types of things with research going on, the cutting edge research there," said Perdue. "What my perception of Purdue University is is they are graduating functional people who can get it done, young people who are skilled in life skills of solving problems and that’s what education’s really about. Under President Daniels’ leadership, the faculty of the schools that I visited with, it’s very evident those kids are getting a real education in how to do life."
Perdue praised the work being done at Second Helpings, which collects perishable and overstocked food to create hot meals distributed by more than 90 social services agencies to people in need. The organization also has a culinary job training program that targets disadvantaged adults to prepare them for jobs in the food service industry.
Jennifer Vigran, chief executive officer of Second Helpings, called Perdue’s visit a great opportunity to highlight the organization’s food rescue, hunger relief and job training efforts.
"I think he was very pleased with the partnership that we have with the Family and Social Services Administration here in Indiana to help our students to build careers and self-sufficiency," said Vigran. "It was great to be able to share with him what we do in going out and rescuing good, nutritious food and how we put that food to good use very quickly in our community."
Perdue also talked about the concerns of farmers not just in Indiana, but throughout the country, as it relates to the nation’s trade issues with China.
"We’d love to have China as a customer, but they’ve built their economy on really deceit and theft of intellectual property," said Perdue. "We hope we can get a deal. The president wants a good deal very badly. I think the Chinese want a deal. It’s a matter of can we do one that’s enforceable over contracts. Farmers are resilient but some of them have been holding on for a long time and this five years of down pricing, it’s tough on the farm but I’m hoping if we can get a deal with China, it’s going to be really good again."