USA: Sonny Perdue, agribusiness and the future of American agriculture
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In recent articles, Friends of the Earth (FOE) have drawn attention to the strong opposition to the nomination of Sonny Perdue as the head of the USDA. There are numerous ethical and business-practice complaints against him: he has links to agribusiness, has prioritised profits and he has also accepted money from pesticide companies. He has appointed business partners and political donors to agencies and boards, is a supporter of agribusiness and factory farming and, moreover, a climate change denier – not good news for the farming industry.
FOE points out that the Senate Agriculture Committee failed to scrutinise his record properly. In a powerfully worded statement the president of FOE says that Perdue, given his multiple conflicts of interest, is unfit to serve. FOE and the heads of other agencies have highlighted the contradiction between Perdue and what American agriculture needs regarding issues like food safety, the livelihood of small farmers, sustainability, the environment and, above all, ethical leadership.
FOE fears that, with an emphasis on agribusiness and corporate profit, farmers' and workers' livelihoods and animal welfare will suffer. Given his known priorities and track record, organic and small-scale farming could well be marginalised.
FOE state their position very clearly: they will continue their pressure on the USDA to strengthen national organic standards. For FAO, independent scientific research and transparency are essential in their effort support an agricultural system with integrity – farming without synthetic hormones, routine antibiotics GMOs and toxic pesticides.