Call for more Congressional oversight of Trump's USDA chief Sonny Perdue

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by LizKat, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    Trump's pick for USDA agency head, Sonny Perdue, eventually hired on as a "senior advisor" to himself a right wing radio host who was originally Trump's first pick for USDA Chief Scientist, but who withdrew after broad ridicule of his credentials for the job. Since that move apparently didn't give the Congress pause then maybe the Union of Concerned Scientists' appeal will draw some attention.

    Excerpt from Guardian piece:

    Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, has been criticized for rolling back school nutrition standards, attempting to upend the food stamps program, rejecting World Health Organization guidelines on antibiotics in agriculture and ending a pesticide ban, in a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) advocacy group.

    Perdue spent his first year in office “sidelining science and favoring industry”, the report claims, calling for greater congressional scrutiny of the agency.

    “Those kinds of things are the end result of a secretary of agriculture who is more interested in rewarding industry and agriculture than in protecting the public health,” said Karen Perry Stillerman, a senior analyst at UCS and the report’s author.
    And another:

    Perdue has sought, and received, ethics waivers to hire lobbyists for top positions at the USDA. The director of food policy for the corn syrup industry’s lobbying body, Kailee Tkacz of the Corn Refiners Association, for instance, was hired in July 2017. She received a White House ethics waiver for the position because she had lobbied Congress on the same issues just three months earlier.

    More in the cited report by the UCS, worth the read:

    I found this excerpt rather disheartening in the section on reorganization of USDA to suit agribusiness:

    In May 2017, Perdue announced plans for a major reorganization of the USDA. The details of these plans—which include establishing a new Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs (TFAA), while eliminating the agency's rural development mission area and its undersecretary—do not bode well for rural development, conservation, nutrition, and other essential programs.

    • Removing protections for small farmers. By eliminating the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), and rolling back two of its rules, the Perdue USDA has made it harder for small poultry and livestock farmers to stand up against exploitation by the large meat processing companies they have contracts with. This decision (which is now the target of a federal lawsuit) has been widely decried as an abandonment of small farmers.
    • Blurring lines on scientific integrity. Two pieces of the reorganization—moving the little-known US Codex Office from the Office of Food Safety to the TFAA, and merging two of the department's key nutrition agencies—might seem like meaningless bureaucratic reshuffling. In fact, these moves risk compromising scientific integrity (or the perception of it) with regard to federal food safety and nutrition science.
    Honestly every time I turn around another agency under Trump's "leadership" is undermining the interests of people it was designed to serve, and serving interests of huge corporations. All this while Trump claims to be making America great again...but not for ordinary people and their small businesses or farms.

  2. mac_in_tosh macrumors 6502


    Nov 6, 2016
    That was just a con job. Trump never cared about ordinary people and spent his whole career trying to cheat small businesses.
  3. chagla macrumors 6502a


    Mar 21, 2008
    Smaller swamp creatures replaced with bigger ones! Ben Carson, Betsy Devos, Scott Pruitt, and this Sonny guy. But orange leader is fully behind them, supporting. Ethics and integrity are probably some kind of alien concept.
  4. AlliFlowers Contributor


    Jan 1, 2011
    L.A. (Lower Alabama)
    Instead of draining the swamp, he has created a full bayou.
  5. VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
    You know, giving industry free reign, and ignoring its impacts, will result in the US winding up like Romania. The US will have a dust belt as well as a rust belt.
  6. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    Even if the impeachment never happens or takes a while to start, Democrats will be able to run this fall on the corruption of this so-called administration and its enablers in Congress.
  7. LizKat, Apr 5, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018

    LizKat thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    The anti-government part of the electorate doesn't care about the fact that Trump has left many slots unfilled in agencies, but it's much harder to overlook his administration having stuck industry lobbyists into agencies with rule-making (and rule pruning) powers.

    There's pruning, and then there's destroying. Some of the agricultural rule changes are destructive of small farming and business interests for sure. Others attempt to roll back provisions for our clean air and water and even pose dangers to public health in terms of disregard for concerns about overuse of antibiotics.

    So you’re right, that’s campaign fodder right there if the Democrats stick to the issues and are specific about negative impacts of waiving ethics regulations and catering to industry.

    But one wonders if anyone will be listening. If you're personally affected and know that already, say as a small livestock farmer, is it enough to make you cross parties and vote for a Democrat? If you're not even affected (yet), how much chance you'll vote against a GOP incumbent?

    The Johnny-one-note voter on hot button issues is always a problem. The right-leaning voter who says "as long as my guy's against abortion" and pulls down the lever one more time for the Republican congressman who every time out of the box votes for the plutocrats over the peasants because they help fund re-elections.

    Similarly for a left-leaning voter who while mouthing anti-megabank sentiments will vote for the Democratic Party senator who takes money from insurance companies because "at least he's pro-choice."

    The child of today's voter must later as an adult breathe the air and drink the water each successive Congress either guards or fails to guard, regardless of whether other people are still willing and able to find an abortion provider (legal or otherwise).

    And that child must deal in the business environment his adult kin either tried to make sustainable or else defaulted to let others shape for short term profit.

    But that voter's attention span is now down from 12 seconds to 8 (per some Microsoft study that also noted even goldfish can pay attention for 9 seconds).

    So OK that study has been scoffed at in more than a few academic circles, not least for failing to note that goldfish in the wild can remember location of food sources for years. Also, as a friend of mine said (a friend who voted for Trump), in a tone formerly reserved for citizens of France, "that study was just about Canadians". LOL the xenophobia strikes ever closer to the next door neighbor. How long will I be that guy's friend I wonder?!

    Still, the likelihood of a voter watching even to the punchline of a 15-second campaign ad is surely shrinking. So I'm not sure how we make voters of today care soon enough about what's happening as capable government agencies continue to be turned to support of oligarchs and opportunists in industry.

    When does the moment come when a small farmer looks at the new rulebooks and goes "wait a minute...." and finally votes to throw a corrupted Republican Party out the window entirely, no matter if a bunch of pro-choice Democrats end up in some rural House seats? Never? Then the plutocrats have won the game already.

    Voters need to insist that industry be regulated enough to keep it mindful of tomorrow. That goes for this Ag department, and all the other departments the Trump administration has stuck Trojan horses into in order to weaken protection of consumer, small business and ordinary citizen interests. How do we get the voters to look at what’s actually happening?

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