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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture visits Alto's Swisslane Farms

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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue watches cows getting milked at Swisslane Farm. (WWMT/Matt Miller)

Swisslane Farms rushed to get ready when they found out June 25, 2020 that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was visiting in less than a week.

During his visit Tuesday, June 30, Perdue toured the facility, and sat down with the farm's owners and Michigan Farm Bureau President Carl Bednarski for a round table.

The discussion covered a number of different issues, including the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.

"Just like many sectors of the economy, agriculture was not spared, you had a disruption of the supply chain in the country," he said.

Perdue touted legislation and work done by the Trump Administration to support farmers.

"The president wanted to develop a direct farmer payment," he said, "so we're in the process of distributing that now."

The discussion included issues farmers faced outside of the pandemic, such as trade and staffing their businesses.

"In the thriving economy that we have, it was really difficult to attract sustainable labor in the agricultural sector," Perdue told Newschannel 3 after the roundtable.

Perdue grew up on a dairy farm in Georgia, which is one of the reasons Annie Link was excited for his visits.

"It was such an honor to have the secretary visit today," Link said, "To be able to talk to him about how our farm has been changing over the last 105 years."

Link is a partner at Swisslane Farms. Her great-grandfather immigrated from Switzerland and started the farm. Over 30 of her relatives still live in the area.

Besides visiting Swisslane Dairy Farm, Perdue also visited Impact Church in Detroit and Van Eerden Foodservice in Grand Rapids as well.

At both these locations, Perdue participated in Farmers to Families Food Box Events.