A researcher with the federal Agricultural Research Service studies a sample at a vault preserving seeds from thousands of varieties of plants in Fort Collins, Colo. (File: Grace Hood for Harvest Public Media)
A researcher with the federal Agricultural Research Service studies a sample at a vault preserving seeds from thousands of varieties of plants in Fort Collins, Colo. (File: Grace Hood for Harvest Public Media)

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division’s chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

“Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents,” the email from Sharon Drumm reads, in part. “This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.”

The directive comes as President Donald Trump begins his term and before his nominee for Agriculture Secretary, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, undergoes U.S. Senate confirmation hearings.

Many U.S. cattle producers saw the TPP as a way to boost beef exports to Japan. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)
Many U.S. cattle producers saw the TPP as a way to boost beef exports to Japan. (File: Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media)

After publicly stumping for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, many in the agriculture industry were forced to re-group Monday after President Donald Trump formally backed out of the trade pact.

During a rancorous election campaign that saw both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates vow to scrap the TPP, large farm groups were among just a handful of political organizations working to drum up support for the deal. The TPP was drafted as one of the world’s largest trade deals and included 11 other countries along the Pacific Rim.

The American Farm Bureau Federation claimed in its analysis that the TPP could have increased U.S. agricultural exports by billions of dollars a year. After Trump officially pulled the plug on U.S. participation in the deal, the AFBF urged the president back to the negotiating table.

Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay in 2010. (usembassy_montevideo/Flickr)
Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay in 2010. (usembassy_montevideo/Flickr)

President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR.

Trump is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday, ending a months-long process that left Agriculture Secretary as the final Cabinet post to be filled.

The reported front-runner for weeks, Perdue was a member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee during the general election campaign. If nominated and confirmed, he will take charge of the USDA, an agency with nearly 100,000 employees and a $150 billion budget.

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