Sonny Perdue, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, demonstrated a complete disregard for ethics when he was governor of Georgia. In one notable case he grabbed buying a Florida swamp near Disney World after selling Georgia farmland. His take included $100,000 netted through a retroactive tax break measure that slipped through the Georgia legislature by his personal lawyer during a late night session.
Big agribusiness interests are behind Perdue’s nomination. He has owned both fertilizer and grain trading businesses, which he grew when he turned to politics. As governor, Perdue, like Donald Trump, refused to step away from family businesses and conflicts of interest. He had 13 different ethics complaints filed against him, two of which resulted in fines.
Perdue’s leadership of the Department of Agriculture will be bad for farmers and for food consumers.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the American Farm Bureau has endorsed Perdue, the Farm Bureau represents the interests of industries that make profits on the backs of farmers more than farmers themselves. Full disclosure: I was a Farm Bureau member when I was a young adult working on my parent’s farm; it was the only way I could get health insurance at that time.
Perdue’s record as governor and businessman indicates that he will look after the interests of chemical dealers, grain traders, and big meat packing countries. He could eliminate rules which help protect family farmers, in order to benefit corporate farms.
He has a record of supporting immigration raids that intimidate farm and food processing workers and keep them from organizing to demand better conditions.
Given Perdue’s record of being engaged in multiple cases of land speculation, his sympathies will lie with those who treat farmland primarily as a financial asset to be acquired and traded, rather than the basis of life for farm families and rural communities.
The takeover of farmland by speculative investors is a major problem for farmers globally. Most farmland in the United States is owned by aging farmers, and investment companies are looking for opportunities to acquire farmland in order to profit from the increasing demand for land. Investors hire farm management companies that often lease land back to large farmers who focus on short term profits, usually by growing a single crop rather than taking a long term ecological approach to agriculture.
Perdue will support a system of agribusiness that has negative consequences on farmers and food consumers at home and abroad.
ActionAid is campaigning against the takeover of farmland by institutional investors like retirement fund TIAA, which is impacting communities in Brazil and the U.S.
We also call on the U.S. Senate not to rubber stamp the appointment of ethically challenged politicians like Perdue to be in charge of the Department of Agriculture. Perdue will support a system of agribusiness that has negative consequences on farmers and food consumers at home and abroad.