WATCH: Federal Workers Turn Their Backs on Trump’s Agricultural Secretary
Sonny Perdue has had a long career in politics which included an 8 year stint as Georgia’s 81st Governor. Perdue, who switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1998, was named The Secretary of Agriculture by Donald Trump in January of 2017.
Perdue recently announced that the Economic Research Service, which his department is in charge of, will move from Washington DC to Kansas City. On Friday, the Research Service’s employees protested the decision by turning their backs on Perdue while he spoke to them.
Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country. https://t.co/t3MtdlDOnZ pic.twitter.com/BUA4JelHtS
— CNN (@CNN) June 14, 2019
According to Perdue, “Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win — maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees. The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland.”
Employees worry that the move is not just disruptive to their family life, but also a threat to their research. Steve Suppan, a senior policy analyst for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade said in late May:
“If Secretary Perdue wishes to eviscerate ERS and NIFA research that is opposed by the White House, let him make that case to Congress, rather than hide behind an unjustified, criticized plan to force world class researchers to make the decision to uproot their families or leave their careers.”
Despite the protests, Perdue will still be going forward with the move. He sent a final declaration letter concerning the move on Thursday afternoon.