Secretary of Agriculture Pick is Quintessential Big Ag and Wrong Choice for Farmers, Workers and Eaters, Says Science Group

Statement by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program

Published Jan 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (January 19, 2017)—Today, President-elect Trump nominated Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, to lead the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA is made up of 29 agencies and offices, nearly 100,000 employees, and a budget of $155 billion in fiscal year 2017.

Below is a statement by Ricardo Salvador, senior scientist and director of the food and environment program at the UCS.  

“If President-elect Trump wanted to deliver on his campaign promises of greater prosperity for all, and to help the many economically struggling and rural voters who voted for change, he fell flat. Perdue is quintessential Big Ag. Based on his record, we expect him to hew closely to agribusiness interests and promote intensive export-oriented commodity production, cut incentives for conservation on farms that keep land and water viable for future generations, and ignore worker demands for better wages and protections. Doing so will only guarantee more profits for a select number of farmers and large businesses, harm the interests of the majority of farmers, and damage struggling rural economies.

“Despite recent progress, our food system is out of balance. Farmer and rancher profits are down, for example. Crops are less resilient to pests, weather and other challenges. Farm runoff threatens critical drinking water sources. Workers in agriculture and food industry are being squeezed. And last but not least, the health care sector is reeling from the cost of diet-related diseases.

“Perdue has a tremendous opportunity to boost rural economies and improve the lives of all Americans by responsibly investing taxpayer money to support farmers, farmworkers and rural communities, while producing healthy food to meet growing domestic demand, and safeguarding our natural resources.”