Washington, D.C. – Amid the speculation around who will be the next USDA Secretary of Agriculture, a broad coalition of farm, environment, food safety, social justice, public health and animal welfare organizations reaffirmed their endorsement of Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11). The letter, organized by the advocacy groups Food & Water Watch and Farm Action Fund, now has the support of more than 150 organizations.
“Biden must fulfill his promises to rural America and appoint a leader who will work for their interests—not those of the powerful agribusinesses hollowing out our rural communities,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Congresswoman Fudge is not afraid to take on corporate agribusinesses; she fought against industry-led attempts to increase line speeds in the midst of the pandemic. She has an unparalleled record of defending nutrition programs and addressing the USDA’s legacy of racial discrimination. The choice for the next Ag Secretary is clear.”
The letter affirms that Fudge has “long been an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities.” She stands out among the other contenders, including former Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and the former Secretary of Agriculture under the Obama administration, Tom Vilsack, now also rumored to be in consideration. Both Heitkamp and Vilsack have strong ties to corporate agribusinesses and would presumably continue “business as usual” at a time when farmers are facing parallel problems of crushing corporate consolidation and the fallout from the global pandemic.
“Vilsack was the wrong choice for USDA secretary 10 years ago and he still is today,” said Angela Huffman, Executive Vice President, Farm Action Fund. “He has favored industrial agriculture giants and further consolidated the food market at the expense of America’s farmers, food workers, and rural communities. We need a secretary with a forward looking vision, like Congresswoman Fudge, not someone pushing the same old failed policies.”
“Marcia Fudge is an excellent choice to fulfill Biden’s promises for bold action on climate, economic and racial justice at the helm of USDA,” said Kari Hamerschlag, Deputy Director of Food and Agriculture at Friends of the Earth.“USDA needs a social justice and environmental champion, not a lobbyist with deep ties to industrial agriculture like Tom Vilsack.”
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