The Trump administration's nominees to lead key federal agencies have been characterized by strong ties to the industries they'll be tasked with regulating, a historic disregard for science and the public interest and an astounding lack of diversity. The nomination of Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is no exception.
The extreme delay in announcing a pick for USDA was surprising, given the support for Trump from some rural, agricultural parts of the country. The eventual selection overlooked pressure from major agricultural leaders across the country to choose former California Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado, who would have been the sole Latino in the Trump cabinet.
A former governor of Georgia, Perdue has extensive ties to agribusiness. His resume includes running a fertilizer business and launching a “global trading company” that specializes in “food ingredients, finished food and beverage products, other finished consumer goods and industrial goods.” He’s consistently received a large number of donations from agribusiness interests throughout his political career.
Another climate change denier
In addition to corporate ties, Perdue neatly fits the mold of Trump’s other cabinet picks with his disregard for the accepted science of climate change. In an op-ed piece written during his time as governor of Georgia, Perdue mocked the role of climate change in causing extreme weather, calling it “a running joke among the public.” He also famously hosted a public vigil to pray for rain during a drought in the state. PAN Policy Director Kristin Schafer expounds:
Mr. Perdue has scoffed at the direct impacts climate change is having on farmers, including both drought and flooding. As with Mr. Trump's other cabinet choices, this position on climate science is far removed from mainstream scientific and political understanding, and is cause for serious concern."
What does this mean for farmers? Large-scale, industrial producers may be set under Perdue, but it is likely that small farmers, family farmers, women farmers, farmers of color and those focusing on sustainability will be left in the dust.
A science skeptic looking out for agribusiness profits over the well-being of rural, agricultural communities — the very communities Trump promised to protect — is what America’s farmers will soon be facing. Given the historically late nomination, Perdue’s confirmation hearing will likely take place in mid-February. The good news? That leaves plenty of time to raise these issues to your representatives.
Stay tuned for opportunities to oppose this nomination for the future of our farmers, our food and rural communities.