Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay in 2010. (usembassy_montevideo/Flickr)
Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay in 2010. (usembassy_montevideo/Flickr)

President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR.

Trump is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday, ending a months-long process that left Agriculture Secretary as the final Cabinet post to be filled.

The reported front-runner for weeks, Perdue was a member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee during the general election campaign. If nominated and confirmed, he will take charge of the USDA, an agency with nearly 100,000 employees and a $150 billion budget.

Aerial Imagery is the most common use for drones in agriculture. Taking inch-by-inch resolution imagery allows for precise use of chemicals and the detecting issues with equipment. (Jesse Howe for Harvest Public Media)
Aerial Imagery is the most common use for drones in agriculture. Taking inch-by-inch resolution imagery allows for precise use of chemicals and the detecting issues with equipment. (Jesse Howe for Harvest Public Media)

Drones are not just a hot gift item or a weapon for use by the military. They’re also helping farmers change the landscape of agriculture. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts that 80 percent of drones in the commercial sector will be used for agriculture, according to ​USA Today​.

Alongside unmanned tractors and satellite technology, drones are seen by many as part of the next generation of “precision agriculture” tools, able to use Big Data to improve agricultural practices and efficiency. Though still in its infancy as a tool, here are five ways drones are already impacting the food system.

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks during an awards ceremony at the World Food Prize in Des Moines in December 2016. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)
Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks during an awards ceremony at the World Food Prize in Des Moines in December 2016. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

President Obama’s two-term agriculture secretary will soon slip through one of Washington’s revolving doors and switch from government official to private sector executive eager to push for an industry agenda.  

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday that his first job outside the Cabinet will be heading up a dairy industry trade group that pushes for access to foreign markets, the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who served as Secretary of Agriculture for both of President Barack Obama’s terms, stepped down last week. President-elect Donald Trump has yet to nominate a successor.

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