Several expert economists quit in one day and more are expected to leave the Trump administration after they say they faced retaliation by top Trump officials for publishing reports highlighting how President Trump’s tariffs and other trade policies have hurt U.S. farmers, Politico reports.
Six economists in the Agriculture Department’s (USDA) research branch quit the Trump administration in a single day late last month according to the news outlet.
The move comes after the Economic Research Service (ERS) published findings that blamed the new Republican tax law, Trump’s trade disputes and other policy decisions for hurting American farmers financially.
The Hill adds:
A recent report shows a drop in farmers’ income by about 50 percent since 2013, and says slightly more than half of farm households have faced negative farm income in recent years, forcing them to rely on other sources of income to support their families.
“The administration didn’t appreciate some of our findings, so this is retaliation to harm the agency and send a message,” an unnamed ERS employee told Politico.
Several other moves by the Agriculture Department have reportedly upset its economists, including Secretary Sonny Perdue’s 2018 announcement that the research service would be transitioned to report to the USDA’s chief economist and would be physically relocated out of Washington, D.C., and into the U.S. Heartland. The USDA is planning to keep 76 of the roughly 300 ERS employees in Washington. The other 253 staffers will be relocated.
Economists have also complained about an internal department memo directing researchers to add disclaimers to their peer-reviewed publications to call them “preliminary.” Officials argue that adding this disclaimer to reports weakens the legitimacy of the research and makes negative data look less unfavorable.
These complaints, economists told Politico, are why staffers departed in late April and more plan to leave in the near future.