Karen Perry Stillerman

Senior analyst, Food and Environment

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Karen Perry Stillerman is an analyst and advocate for transforming the U.S. agriculture and food system to one that produces affordable, healthful foods for consumers; reduces air and water pollution; and builds healthy soil for the farmers of tomorrow. She holds a master's degree in public affairs and environmental policy. See Karen's full bio.

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Three Ways the Coronavirus Crisis Is Also a Food Crisis

As the coronavirus crisis keeps most Americans at home, many of us have pantries comfortably stocked with food and can have groceries delivered to our doorsteps in a matter of hours. But millions of our neighbors have trouble putting food on the table in the best of times, and they’re now joined by many more people abruptly facing job loss and hunger. Meanwhile, many of the people who produce and safeguard our food supply are confronted with increased health risk and economic catastrophe. Read more >

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Photo: __Jens__/Flickr

Lunch in the Time of COVID-19: What Schools Need Now to Ensure Kids Don’t Go Hungry During a Pandemic

Regular readers will know that I take a pretty dim view of the Trump administration’s Department of Agriculture and many of its anti-science, anti-farmer, and just plain mean-spirited actions over the past three years. The administration is also getting a lot of things (very) wrong in its response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). But last week, the USDA got something right when it moved to help two states facing serious virus outbreaks ensure that schoolchildren can access free and reduced-priced meals even when schools are closed during this emergency. Unfortunately, schools and the children they serve across the nation are likely to need a lot more of this support in the weeks and months ahead. Read more >

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits and serves bacon cheeseburgers for lunch to some of the Discovery Elementary School students, in Arlington, VA, during National School Lunch Week, October 15-19, 2018. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

From School Lunch to SNAP, New Attacks on Kids’ Health and Nutrition

Life comes at you fast, and so does the Trump administration’s ongoing assault on children’s health. Over the last many months, my colleagues in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy have been hard at work rounding up stories of action or inaction, at agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and beyond, that put the nation’s children in greater danger. Their report and related not-really-for-kids-storybook came out last week, and I encourage you to read them both.

But sadly, the tally is already a bit out of date. Even as our report was in press, the administration was jumping on a few more opportunities to put kids at risk.

Read more >

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President Trump, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and other department heads participate in a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Official White House photo by Tia Dufour on Flickr

Secretary Perdue and the Trump Administration See Environmental Regulation as a Weapon. That’s Not Just Dumb, It’s Dangerous.

In the latest assault on science and the nation’s health and safety, the Trump administration recently proposed a rule that would upend the way federal agencies work to assess and minimize the harm their actions can do to the environment we all depend upon. The move threatens to turn back decades of progress and would shock the architects of the law, including a professor I knew many years ago.

So of course, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is all for it. Read more >

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USDA Photo by Lance Cheung/Flickr

Farm State Voters See Soil as a Solution to Agriculture’s Woes

The Trump administration’s still-fuzzy trade deal with China, announced (as usual) via tweet last Friday, has landed in farm country with a thud. Having endured financial losses and trade uncertainty for nearly two years, farmers have reacted with skepticism and even anger. Read more >

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