Perdue plans to make changes to USDA civil rights management
March 16, 2018
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has announced a realignment of the Agriculture Department's structure dealing with civil rights.
In a little-noticed memorandum posted on the USDA website on March 9, Perdue said, "Under the realignment, a Civil Rights director and appropriate Equal Opportunity staff will be aligned as follows: (1) Departmental Administration, staff offices, and Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs will share civil rights resources; (2) Each remaining departmental mission area will consolidate its sub-agency resources at the Mission Area level; and (3) The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) shall have an independent Civil Rights director."
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., told reporters on Thursday that he has had conversations with USDA about the changes, but has not received detailed information. At a hearing, Bishop also urged USDA Inspector General Phyllis Fong to assess the USDA reorganization, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.
President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Naomi Churchill Earp, who was chair and vice chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush, as the USDA assistant secretary for civil rights.
Civil rights has been an issue for decades at USDA, an agency that was established in 1862 and practiced segregation in the Southern states when that was the custom.
–The Hagstrom Report