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In Letter, Pingree Requests OIG Investigate USDA’s Suppression of Climate Science Research

In a letter, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today formally requested that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Inspector General Phyllis Fong investigate the suppression of valuable climate research conducted by the Agriculture Research Service (ARS), a division of USDA. Yesterday, Politico reported that only two ARS studies related to climate change have been publicized since January 2017, while at least 45 ARS studies about how climate change is impacting farmers and our food supply were not promoted.

“I am deeply concerned by these recent reports…” wrote Pingree in her letter. “Federally-funded research should never be suppressed. Farmers are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and the federal government should be doing everything it can to give farmers the research they need to stay in business. I believe this issue warrants further investigation by USDA’s OIG [Office of the Inspector General] and request a report be conducted on USDA’s dissemination of climate change research.”

A signed copy of Pingree’s letter can be found here.

In her letter, Pingree reiterated her opposition to the relocation of hundreds of Washington-based USDA researchers to Kansas City. Recent media reports have indicated that these USDA research staff feel their relocation is an effort to silence their research into topics that do not align with the Trump administration’s political agenda, including the study of climate change. These staffers recently voted overwhelmingly to form a union—further demonstrating that they felt powerless to change the Trump administration’s politically-motivated decision to decentralize their roles.

Earlier this year, Pingree introduced the Agriculture Research Integrity Act of 2019 (H.R. 1221), which would ensure affected USDA research employees stay in the national Capital region. As a member of the House Appropriations committee, Pingree has successfully secured language in the FY2020 budget, which would prevent USDA from relocating these employees.  

As an organic farmer for more than 40 years and one of the few farmers serving in the 116th Congress, Pingree has been working to incentivize farmers to reduce greenhouse gases and offer solutions that work for them. In April, Pingree rolled out a five-point plan to support farmers who are dealing with the effects of our warming planet every day.

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