Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Conservationists Applaud Biden Plan to Reverse Trump Attack on Tongass National Forest

“Even if you live thousands of miles from the Tongass National Forest, you still benefit from its unique ability to fight climate change,” said Earthjustice.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-11-2021

Tongass National Forest. Photo: Jeff’s Canon/flickr/CC

Indigenous rights and climate action groups on Friday welcomed the Biden administration’s announcement that the Department of Agriculture will “repeal or replace” former President Donald Trump’s assault on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, in which a 20-year-old rule protecting wild lands was revoked three months before Trump left office.

Trump’s rollback of the 2001 Roadless Rule was made final last October and sparked fury among conservation groups including Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which noted that the protection of the Tongass National Forest is vital for biodiversity as well as absorbing carbon emissions. Continue reading

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‘Dirty and Dangerous’: New Data Show Higher Rates of Contamination in Pork Plants Using New Slaughter System

Plants adopting the Trump-approved New Swine Inspection System had, on average, nearly double the rate of fecal and digestive matter contamination of other facilities.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-19-2021

Workers process parts from slaughtered pigs at a Triumph Foods plant in St. Joseph, Missouri on April 28, 2017. (Photo: USDA)

New data released Friday revealed pigs slaughtered at plants piloting a controversial new system—which speeds production while replacing many government inspectors with slaughterhouse employees—had much higher rates of fecal and digestive matter contamination than animals processed in other plants, information that the Trump administration hid from the public while expanding the system.

The consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch said in a statement that from 2014 to 2017, pork processing plants implementing the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) on a trial basis had, on average, “nearly double the violations than comparably sized plants outside the program” and “were almost twice as likely to be cited for contamination.” Continue reading

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Amid Broader Concerns Over Biden USDA Nominee, Watchdog Flags ‘Disturbing Suppression’ of Science by Vilsack

“Unless he pledges to implement significant safeguards for scientists, Tom Vilsack should not be confirmed. The days in which federal agencies function as scientific gulags should be behind us.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-29-2021

Tom Vilsack during the 2008 transition. Photo: Obama Biden Transition Project/CC

On top of concerns about his close industry ties, corporate-friendly policy record, and alarming civil rights history, President Joe Biden’s Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack is also facing scrutiny over what one watchdog organization on Friday characterized as “disturbing” evidence that he improperly meddled in and suppressed scientific research during his previous tenure as head of USDA.

Throughout his nearly eight years as former President Barack Obama’s USDA chief, Vilsack “routinely interfered with scientific work that big agriculture found bothersome,” the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) alleged in a statement Friday, pointing to the direct testimony and survey responses of department scientists. Continue reading

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USDA and Meatpacking Industry Collaborated to Undermine Covid-19 Response, Documents Show

Hundreds of emails obtained by Public Citizen and American Oversight offer a rare inside look at the meat industry’s power and access to the highest levels of government.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-15-2020

Some critics have called keeping meat processing plants open during the Covid-19 pandemic a “death sentence” for workers.. Screenshot: CBS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the meatpacking industry worked together to downplay and disregard risks to worker health during the Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in documents published Monday by Public Citizen and American Oversight.

The documents (pdf), which the groups obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, reveal that a week before President Donald Trump issued his controversial executive order in April to keep meatpacking plants open—overriding closure orders from local health officials—a leading meat industry lobby group drafted a proposed executive order that was strikingly similar to Trump’s directive. Continue reading

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Deregulation’s Deadly Consequences: Report Details How Trump’s Assault on Government Exacerbated Pandemic

“These rollbacks have put all of us—especially low-income communities, Black people and people of color, and essential workers—at higher risk of contracting and dying from Covid-19.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-14-2020

Photo: World News/Twitter

President Donald Trump’s ongoing efforts to roll back regulations designed to protect the environment, workers, and public health likely played a significant role in the spread of Covid-19 in the United States.

That’s according to a new report released Tuesday by New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity (IPI), a nonpartisan policy think tank. Continue reading

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USDA’s $19 Billion in COVID-19 Relief for Farmers and Food Banks Sparks Questions About Who Will Benefit

The new plan, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, “lacks critical details to confirm whether it will actually reach all who need it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-18-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

While some industry trade associationshunger relief organizations, and federal lawmakers welcomed the Trump administration’s new pledge to provide $19 billion in relief from the coronavirus pandemic to farmers and food banks nationwide, policy groups, and reporters highlighted that the announcement lacked critical details about who will benefit.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the plan at a Friday night press briefing with President Donald Trump. The president said that “the program will include direct payments to farmers as well as mass purchases of dairy, meat, and agricultural produce to get that food to the people in need.” Continue reading

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‘Unacceptable’: Family Farms, Ag Advocates Hit Back After Sec Perdue Says Small Dairy Farms Destined to Die

“Five years of plunging farm prices, increasing bankruptcies, and climbing suicide rates were not discussed by Perdue. His message to them was basically, stop whining, your demise is inevitable.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-2-2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue visits The World Dairy Expo and holds a stakeholder townhall in Madison, Wisconsin, October 1, 2019. (Photo: USDA/Flickr)

Furious family farmers flamed Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday after comments he made on the future of the dairy business that cast doubt on the future of small farms during a stop in Wisconsin Tuesday.

“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” said Perdue. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” Continue reading

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‘Mass Starvation Plan’: Trump USDA to Push Work Requirements for Food Stamps That Congress Left Off Farm Bill


“Trump doesn’t give up when he can’t get his cruel agenda through Congress.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-20-2018


The Trump administration is pushing to impose restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through changes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

After Congress passed the $867 billion Farm Bill last week without the House’s “cruel” and “shameful” provisions to tighten work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—often called food stamps—the Trump administration is pushing to impose such restrictions through changes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While critics including Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter charged that the final Farm Bill “fails to fix critical problems in our food system,” she and many others expressed relief that it “does not include many of the horrible provisions from the House bill that would have gutted the safety net provided by SNAP.” Continue reading

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Trump’s USDA Rolls Back School Lunch Guidelines Championed by Michelle Obama

The nutrition rules were long abhorred by industry groups who now have a friend in the White House

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-1-2017

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, joined by Sen. Pat Roberts (left) & Tom Marshall, Loudoun County School Board, signs a proclamation.. Photo: USDA

In one of his first orders of business, President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took steps to weaken school lunch standards championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

In an interim final rule, announced by Perdue while he visited an elementary school in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Virginia on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling back nutrition rules that were part of Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that was abhorred by food industry groups. Continue reading

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Groups to Probe Why Pruitt Put ”Pesticide Industry Profits Ahead of Children’s Health”

‘Americans have a right to know who influenced the EPA to suddenly reverse course’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-12-2017

“Americans have a right to know who influenced the EPA to suddenly reverse course and put pesticide industry profits ahead of children’s health,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. (Photo: Austin Valley/flickr/cc)

How is it that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt came to the decision to reject his own agency’s science and reject a ban the insecticide chlorpyrifos?

Watchdog group American Oversight and advocacy organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) want to know, and are ready to sue to get to the bottom of the matter.

Pruitt’s March 29 decision to deny a 10-year-old petition brought forth by Pesticide Action Network and the Natural Resources Defense Council sparked outrage from public health advocates and environmentalists who say the move—which is what the chemical’s maker, Dow, had wanted—was unacceptable in the face of studies linking the nerve agent to numerous adverse effects, from contaminating water to harming children’s brain development. Continue reading

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