Trump’s USDA relocated research agencies despite warnings of high staff attrition
In 2019, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the government would save $300 million over 15 years by moving two research agencies to Kansas City from the District of Columbia. However, congressional auditors now say USDA's selection process was flawed and disregarded estimates that up to 75 percent of employees would quit rather than move.
Sonny Perdue’s undisclosed deal with ADM raises ethics questions
Several weeks before Sonny Perdue became agriculture secretary, his company bought a grain elevator in Estill, South Carolina, from agribusiness giant ADM for $250,000 – a fraction of the original asking price, reported the Washington Post on Tuesday. ADM denied it was a sweetheart deal but a …
Trump administration tried to influence state responses to meatpacking plant outbreaks, documents reveal
Top staff at the Department of Agriculture, including former agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, and at the Vice President’s office sought to influence how states responded to early outbreaks of Covid-19 in meatpacking plants last spring, a trove of documents reveals.(No paywall)
Perdue demurs at cabinet sideline of Trump
While the top Democrats in Congress threatened to impeach President Trump for the second time, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Thursday that he was not part of any discussions among cabinet members to sideline Trump by declaring him unfit to do his job. "Nor do I expect to have any" part in such talk, said Perdue during a trip to Georgia.
Meyer to succeed Johansson as USDA chief economist
The associate director of a University of Missouri think tank, Seth Meyer, will become USDA chief economist at the end of January, succeeding Rob Johansson, who held the post since 2015, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday. As chief economist, Meyer will be responsible for USDA’s …
Coronavirus payments to farmers near $18 billion
The Trump administration wrote $7.6 billion in coronavirus checks to farmers in the past four weeks, pushing the total for relief payments to nearly $18 billion since the pandemic struck in the spring. The payments account for half of the record-large federal supports being paid to agriculture …
Perdue violated rules against politicking on the job, says ethics agency
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue violated a 1939 law against politicking on the job when he urged the re-election of President Trump at a produce packing house in North Carolina on Aug. 24 and must reimburse the government "for the costs associated with his political activity," said the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Thursday.
Perdue unwilling to use SNAP to fullest during pandemic, says think tank
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shows more enthusiasm for cutting SNAP enrollment than in making full use of food stamps to alleviate hunger during the pandemic, said the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) on Thursday. SNAP enrollment has rocketed to 43 million, the highest level since October 2017, and estimates of food insecurity have tripled because of the coronavirus.
In abrupt reversal, USDA extends summer school food waivers
In a sudden reversal, the Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it would extend school meal waivers through Dec. 30—less than a week after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had said the programs would lapse by Sept. 30. The shift came amid an outcry from advocates and lawmakers from both parties, who argued that Perdue’s refusal to extend key waivers and flexibilities around free summer meals would worsen record levels of child hunger. (No paywall)
Perdue violated anti-politicking law, says ethics complaint
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue solicited votes for President Trump in violation of the 1939 federal law that bars partisan activity by federal officials while on the job, said a complaint filed by a good-government group. The complaint cites Perdue's comments at a produce packing shed in North Carolina, where Trump announced a $1-billion extension of the administration's food-box giveaway program.
Lax rules, little accountability in Trump food-box giveaway, say House Democrats
The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration’s response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, went into operation without a formula to assure aid was distributed fairly across the country, said the USDA official overseeing the program on Tuesday. While …
Food box misses goal of 40 million deliveries
The Farmers to Families Food Box program, the $3 billion face of the Trump administration's response to US food insecurity during the pandemic, delivered 25 million boxes of food to nonprofit organization such as food banks as of Monday, said the USDA. (No paywall)
There are holes in USDA’s Food Box, say congressional Democrats
When Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talks about hunger relief during the pandemic, he puts the spotlight on the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program. He took part in three Food Box events last week and is scheduled to speak at one in Lakeland, Florida, on Monday. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and Senate question if the donation program is a fair and efficient way to help families. (No paywall)
Record USDA support flowing, but farmers say more federal assistance will be needed
With signup underway for $16 billion in coronavirus payments, farmers overwhelmingly say more federal aid to agriculture is needed this year, according to a Purdue University poll released on Tuesday. Farm spending is headed for a record this year and could exceed $30 billion from an amalgam of …
Trump launches coronavirus aid to agriculture, with a $750,000 top payment
The Trump administration modified its $16 billion coronavirus aid program for agriculture so it will be easier for farmers, particularly livestock producers and specialty crop growers who complained of inadequate support, to collect larger payments, to a maximum of $250,000 per person or …
Perdue joins coronavirus task force
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, chosen by President Trump to oversee the reopening of meat plants, is now a member of the White House coronavirus task force, "which is focused on getting Americans back to work and allowing businesses to reopen," said the White House. The appointment was announced a few hours after Perdue and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump visited a produce warehouse in the Washington suburbs that is part of the Farmers to Families Food Box on Friday.(No paywall)
Packing plant reopenings will begin ‘maybe by the end of this week,’ says Perdue
Two days after President Trump ordered meat plants to operate during the pandemic, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that some plants shuttered by coronavirus outbreaks will reopen "maybe by the end of this week, over the weekend." The labor union representing 250,000 meat workers asked state governors to set stronger safety standards than those proposed by the CDC. (No paywall)
Pork industry group says hog farmers are facing a crisis
With market prices for hogs down by 50 percent, hog farmers are losing money on every animal and some will soon debate whether it’s cheaper to kill a pig than feed it, said Wisconsin producer Howard Roth, president of the National Pork Producer Council, on Tuesday. The NPPC said there is …