Trumps pick for USDA would prioritize agribusiness profits over farmer livelihoods
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Donald Trump has nominated Governor Sonny Perdue to lead the Department of Agriculture. Perdue served as Georgia’s governor from 2003-2011. He currently serves as CEO of Perdue Partners, a global trading company that specializes in exports of U.S. agricultural commodities.
As governor, Perdue supported major expansions of factory-farm poultry operations in Georgia and mocked the role of climate in causing extreme weather events affecting farmers. Instead of taking climate change seriously, the governor organized a public vigil to pray for rain.
Friends of the Earth Deputy Director of Food and Technology Kari Hamerschlag issued the following response:
Rather than draining the swamp, Trump’s pick of Perdue to run the USDA puts a career politician and agribusiness CEO in charge of running one of the nation’s largest agencies. Given Perdue’s position with a global agribusiness trading company and his actions as governor, we are concerned that Perdue will use his position at the USDA to prioritize the profits of big agribusiness and trade over the interests of American farmers, workers and consumers.
Farmers are among the most vulnerable to extreme weather events caused by climate change. This year was the hottest on record and farmers need a champion in the USDA who will fight for conservation programs to help farmers be more resilient in the face of extreme weather, not pray for rain.
While trade is important, we need a leader at the USDA who understands the importance of growing stronger local agricultural economies. The USDA Secretary must focus on creating good jobs in rural America by supporting independent family farmers and ranchers who are working hard to meet U.S. consumers’ demand for healthier, cleaner food that is grown without the use of synthetic hormones, routine antibiotics, GMOs or toxic pesticides.
With the appointment of Sonny Perdue, Trump has created a cabinet with almost no racial or gender diversity. Of sixteen cabinet positions, Perdue is the twelfth white man to be appointed. Of note, Trump met with and rejected several Latino candidates for Secretary of Agriculture over the past month.