The United States Department of Agriculture is transferring nearly all of its experts on the economic impacts of climate change, food stamps, and trade policy outside of the nation’s capital in an effort that employees say silences opposition to and skepticism of Trump’s policies, Politico reports.
The department’s Economic Research Service employees have waited since 2018 for announcements about who in their agency will be relocated out of Washington, D.C., following the news from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that most of the agency will be leaving the capital’s location. The announcement drew harsh attention from critics, who say that Perdue was trying to push researchers out of the agency rather than move away from their families.
In early March, administrators started telling people privately if they were staying in Washington and didn’t provide a list of names. But former and current economists made a comprehensive list anyway. Out of all 279 researchers, only 76 were given permission to stay in Washington.
The employees say that there was a huge overlap between those whose research clashes with Trump’s policies and those who were asked to move. They gave the list of names to Politico, which they said shows a “clear emphasis was placed on keeping employees whose work covers relatively non-controversial issues like crop planting over those whose research focused on areas sensitive to the administration.”
“This was a clear politicization of the agency many of us loved for its non-partisan research and analysis,” said one current ERS employee, who argued that department leaders chose experts whose research is more critical of the White House and made them move “out or quit.”