FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, Agriculture Secretary-designate, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue attends a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington. Perdue says he will step down from several positions at companies bearing his name, restructure family trusts and create blind trusts to avoid a conflict of interest if he is confirmed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perude has announced that religious liberty and freedom of speech are a priority in the office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Perdue’s office issued a statement earlier this week after sending a policy memo to all USDA employees.

“Today, I want to reestablish this Department’s commitment to safeguarding every American’s First Amendment rights, particularly the right to free speech and the right to religious free exercise.  USDA is committed to protecting both,” he said in the memo.

In his memo, Perdue also touched on mutual respect and tolerance. From the press release:

“I expect each and every USDA employee to uphold their fellow Americans’ First Amendment freedoms.  Whether we are inspecting private businesses for compliance with food safety laws or protecting our public lands for recreation, cultivation, and preservation, we must set the example of our nation’s highest ideals.  These are lessons we learned as children – that we should be kind to others and treat them with respect.  Doing so is not optional, and it is not discretionary.”

Perdue’s initiative follows Trump’s Executive Order last week on ‘Promoting Free Speech and Relgious Liberty.

You can read Secretary Perdue’s entire statement here.

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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’