The Senate just confirmed Georgia’s own Sonny Perdue as the Dept. of Agriculture Secretary. But unfortunately there isn’t much to celebrate. Perdue’s history aligns him with Donald Trump’s disastrous policy choices.
Perdue’s history includes killing forest conservation programs, engaging in tax evasion and promoting anti-immigrant policies predating Trump’s own brand of xenophobia.
Neill Herring, a Gold Dome stalwart and lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Georgia, expressed his concern that Perdue’s confirmation will lead the USDA to abandon some of their work focused on conservation and environmental protection.
“The USDA can be such a great doer of good and has been in historic times,” Herring said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But the focus now on commodity production, the concentration and accumulation of resources is such that it’s really hard to be optimistic that they’re going to be good for the planet or the climate or the impact of agriculture in communities.”
Perdue will have influence in a government that has already seen fit to cut environmental protection enacted under the Obama administration. Will he really advocate to protect any of these programs crucial to keeping contaminants out of our water, land and air?
During his time as governor of Georgia, Perdue gutted a program intended to conserve forest lands, in favor of policies that promoted the interests of the timber industry. Never mind that forest conservation is essential to preserving habitats and countering global warming (but, hey, when you don’t believe global warming is real that’s not a problem).
Perdue also raised more than a few eyebrows when he purchased $2 million in Florida swampland — sight unseen — from a wealthy Republican donor in order to score a sweet tax break. This deal also got mired in controversy when it turned out he signed into law an additional provision that made that tax break about $100,000 sweeter.
Although Perdue will now be working to advance the interests of the ag industry — one that relies on exploiting the labor of undocumented people — his own history as Governor speaks to promoting harsh, anti-immigrant policies based on racist stereotypes.
Anti-immigrant, anti-environment, ethically dubious decisions…Sonny Perdue is just par for the course for this new administration. Georgia should be so proud.