FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON— Today the Senate voted to confirm former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue as U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, despite troubling questions regarding Perdue’s ethical shortcomings and qualifications. As head of the USDA, Perdue will be charged with protecting and advocating for the safety of U.S. farmers and our food supply. Perdue has strong ties to and long-time investment in corporate agribusiness, and has been responsible for the massive expansion of factory-farm poultry operations in his home state. Perdue accepted over $950,000 in campaign contributions from Monsanto and other food and agribusinesses during his political career in Georgia. His confirmation hearing was delayed by nearly two months, in part because of a lengthy inquiry into 13 ethics complaints against Perdue dating from his tenure as Georgia governor, including some relating to discrimination against minority farmers.
The following is statement from Andrew Kimbrell, nonprofit Center for Food Safety director:
“It is deeply troubling to think we have someone like Perdue at the helm of USDA who will not be fair in advocating for policy that uplifts the small and family farmers and farmworkers that are the backbone of the American food system.
“Sonny Perdue does not have a track record of making the right call and standing by farmers or the health and safety of the public against large corporate agricultural interests. It is a good question whether he can fairly regulate GMOs and whether he will support a Bayer-Monsanto merger. Perdue may have experience governing an important agricultural state, but many of his decisions in that role indicate that the experience did not include learning how to ethically exercise power.
“Americans and especially America’s rural communities deserve a leader at the USDA who will promote equitable and ethical operation of the agency’s programs, funds and responsibilities. Unfortunately, we don’t see in Sonny Perdue a concern for food safety, small and disadvantaged farmers, or the environment.”