December 11, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC — A coalition of food safety, science, and consumer groups today urged President-elect Obama to appoint a Secretary of Agriculture “who embraces the diversity of programs administered by the Department [of Agriculture] and accepts the responsibility for representing the interests of all Americans, urban as well as rural, consumers as well as producers.”
The groups said the appointee should be one who has “experience with or [has] been an advocate for USDA’s nutrition, conservation and food safety programs and [has] had experience providing leadership to a large and diverse organization,” rather than an appointee “whose primary qualification for the position is their knowledge of and interest in production agriculture and commodity programs.”
The groups recommended changing the name of the Department of Agriculture to better reflect its missions, suggesting “Department of Food, Agriculture and Forestry” or simply the “Department of Food,” and they asked the President-elect to “appoint a Secretary who sees his or her constituency as all the people who eat as well as those who produce.”
The letter was signed by Center for Foodborne Illness, Research & Prevention; Center for Science in the Public Interest; Consumer Federation of America; Consumers Union; Food & Water Watch; Government Accountability Project; Safe Tables Our Priority; Union of Concerned Scientists.
For the letter, click here (PDF format).