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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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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Photo courtesy Jenn Vargas/Flickr

Reasons to Be Thankful—8 Food and Farm “Good News” Stories

Sometimes gratitude feels like a stretch, and this fall has been one of those times. We’re in the home stretch of a difficult year. Bad news abounds, and even the holiday that many of us will celebrate this week is complicated—a day of thanks that also evokes loss and grief for many Native people, along with expressions of resilience. With Thanksgiving approaching, I went looking for hopeful stories, scanning the news of food and agriculture for signs of progress and promise. And though I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface, I actually found quite a lot. Here’s a roundup of good news food and farming stories. Got more? Share ‘em in the comments.

And happy Thanksgiving. Read more >

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USDA/Flickr

Trick or Treat? 5 Ways the USDA Secretary Has Pranked Us

It’s fun when little kids put on costumes and pretend to be things they’re not. It’s less fun when high-ranking government officials disguise their true identities and intentions. The Trump administration is rife with officials who pose as public servants but are actually swamp creatures—doing the bidding of various industries, lining their own pockets, or both. It goes right up to the top. But the official I want to talk about during this week of masks and disguises is the administration’s Secretary of Agriculture. George Ervin Perdue III goes by the folksy nickname, “Sonny.” And that’s just the beginning of the façade. Read more >

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Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

As Presidential Candidates Prepare for Ohio Debate, Farmers Need a New Vision

It has been a very bad year for Ohio’s farmers. Across the state, they were unable to plant crops on nearly 1.5 million acres this past spring due to unrelenting rainfall and flooding. The Buckeye State has also been hard-hit by the Trump administration’s trade war, with the price of soybeans—Ohio’s most financially valuable agricultural commodity—plummeting. At the same time, intensive commodity farming has taken a heavy toll on the state’s water resources. And growing just one or two crops, as many Ohio farmers do, leaves them and our food supply vulnerable in an erratic climate future. But changing the way farmers do business—starting with their soil—can help solve all these problems. And when the fourth Democratic presidential debate kicks off in Westerville, Ohio on Tuesday, it sure would be great to hear about the candidates’ plans to make healthy soil a reality. Read more >

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