Economic Research Service


USDA/Flickr

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

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

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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Photo: aisletwentytwo/CC BY 2.0 (Flickr)

Is the USDA Relocation Just Good Old-Fashioned Rent Seeking?

, Economist

One of things I cherish about economists is their ability to call BS when they see it. In research settings economists tend to have a reputation for asking hard-hitting questions during seminars. They are known for having the most unpopular opinion and for being unabashedly proud of it. I’ve personally seen non-economists bristle at the thought of giving a talk to an economics-oriented audience. As someone who straddles the worlds of public health and economics I get it, trust me. I’ve been there. Read more >

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes a big bite out of his bacon cheeseburger at the Discovery Elementary School cafeteria, in Arlington, VA. Photo: USDA

Secretary Perdue is Moving The Cheese and It’s Not Good For Any Of Us

, Economist

In a recent interview by the North Carolina News and Observer, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue discussed the current proposal to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside Washington DC. When asked if he was worried about employee backlash he replied, “anytime you make change or move people’s cheese, there’s always anxiety.”

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Photo: USDA
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Photo courtesy Phil Roeder/Flickr

Four Things the New Congress Can Do to Hold Trump’s USDA Accountable

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

When it comes to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its handling of food and farming issues, Congressional oversight is sorely needed. As the new Congress gets underway, here are four ways its leaders should seek to make Secretary Perdue and his USDA more accountable to the public interest. Read more >

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Is Scientific Integrity Safe at the USDA?

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Science is critical to everything the US Department of Agriculture does—helping farmers produce a safe, abundant food supply, protecting our soil and water for the future, and advising all of us about good nutrition to stay healthy. I recently wrote about the Trump administration’s new USDA chief scientist nominee, Scott Hutchins, and the conflicts he would bring from a career narrowly focused on developing pesticides for Dow.

But meanwhile, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue last week abruptly announced a proposed reorganization of the USDA’s research agencies. This move has implications for whoever takes up the post of chief scientist—as do new survey findings released yesterday, which suggest that the Trump administration is already having detrimental effects on science and scientists at the USDA. Read more >

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