By now, most of the United States has learned of Trump’s gag order against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Many Americans are left wondering why this is happening. Surely, we should be able to ask questions about our food, right?
As it turns out, Trump’s administration may have one very obvious reason for this measure. We need to look no further than his selection for secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue. Perdue served as Georgia’s governor for two terms. He has been a very successful business owner concentrated in agribusiness.
In 2005, Perdue invested $155 million into the expansion of Perdue Chicken, based in his home state of Georgia. This has created many factory and farming jobs for his constituents. In the last year, Perdue has even announced that they are making life better for their chickens by adding more room for them and allowing them more sunlight. However, some farmers claim this is not true.
One farmer in particular spoke out against Perdue Chicken. J. Craig Watts has raised chickens for them for years. He has always received good reviews from the company. The chicks he receives are in ill health, forced to grow unnaturally large and fast, and are crowded in dirty conditions.
Because Perdue Chicken has to sell their meat under the Process Verified Program, they have to ensure that “live animals such as cattle, swine, sheep and poultry from growing operations to harvest facilities meet various requirements and standards.” In other words, the animals have to be treated humanely. In fact, on January 18, Obama’s USDA announced stricter guidelines for egg and meat producers, which may be a conflict for the new secretary and his interest in the company.
By ordering the USDA to quit communicating with the public, can we rely on the agencies overseeing our food to be open and ethical? Will we be able to make good decisions based on our own ethics because the information simply won’t be there? Time will tell.
Watch how Watts’ chickens really live
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