Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) delivers remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Convention chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) delivers remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage)

We Want Fudge! Rejecting Corporate Stooge Heitkamp, Progressives Back Ohio Congresswoman for USDA Chief

Dozens of advocacy groups told the Biden transition team that Rep. Marcia Fudge has "long been an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities."

Jessica Corbett

Amid speculation that President-elect Joe Biden may select former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture despite her ties to agribusiness and fossil fuels, more than 50 progressive advocacy groups on Wednesday urged Biden to instead choose Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio.

"Now more than ever, we need a champion like Rep. Fudge to restore common-sense food safety standards in America," Food & Water Action executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement. "She has been an unsung hero of our food system workers, who are forced to deal with some of the most dangerous working conditions of any industry in the country."

Food & Water Action and Family Farm Action led the coalition of animal welfare, environment, farm, and food safety organizations that sent a letter (pdf) to Biden detailing why they want Fudge to run the USDA.

"Congresswoman Fudge is a skilled and compassionate leader of unparalleled reputation and integrity," the letter says. "She has long been an ally to farmers, food-chain workers, consumers, and rural communities. She is best positioned to help the department navigate today's unprecedented challenges—from the ongoing rural crisis, to climate change, to the pandemic's rupturing of our food system."

The letter highlights promising pieces of her political history, from urging federal agencies including the USDA "to strengthen workplace protections for slaughterhouse workers at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic" and fighting against industry-led attempts to speed up lines at processing plants to introducing bills "to increase local procurement for the National School Lunch Program and to increase scrutiny of foreign investment in U.S. farmland."

The groups praise Fudge as not only a supporter of working people, family-scale farms, and regional food systems, but also someone who "understands the central role farmers play in fighting climate change and protecting natural resources." Additionally, the letter notes, she is "an advocate for farmers and communities historically underserved by USDA."

While celebrating her "unparalleled track record of protecting and strengthening nutrition programs," the letter also says that "as the first Black woman to serve as agriculture secretary, Congresswoman Fudge would address the department's legacy of discrimination against Black and other historically-underserved farmers, and ensure these groups have full access to USDA programs and resources."

"Congresswoman Fudge has a vision for our food and agriculture system that is inclusive of America's farmers, food-chain workers, and local and regional businesses."
—Joe Maxwell, Family Farm Action

Family Farm Action president Joe Maxwell—whose group recently released a roadmap outlining how the incoming Biden administration can revitalize rural America—emphasized that "Congresswoman Fudge has a vision for our food and agriculture system that is inclusive of America's farmers, food-chain workers, and local and regional businesses."

"What we need in a USDA secretary is a leader who will root out the historical discrimination within the department's farm programs, who will lift up all farmers not with government handouts but with markets that work, who will work to restore food security for all families, and who will restore Abraham Lincoln's vision for the department as 'The People's Department,'" he added.

Other signatories include national groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, Mercy For Animals, Oil Change U.S., Open Markets Institute, People's Action, and 350.org, along with state and local organizations like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

"Independent family farmers in Iowa are calling for Rep. Fudge as the next secretary of agriculture," said Adam Mason, state policy organizing director at Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. "Family farmers know we need a different direction, one in which USDA takes on seed and chemical mega-mergers and the lack of competition in livestock markets. Industrial agribusinesses have been writing the rules for too long, and we believe we can work with Rep. Fudge at USDA to change that."

Open Markets Institute executive director Barry Lynn concurred that "it is high time for a secretary of Agriculture who is not beholden to Big Ag."

"Rep. Fudge has a strong track record of fighting for those on the front lines of our monopolized food systems; including workers, independent farmers and ranchers, and Black, Latinx, indigenous, and other communities of color," Lynn said. "Fudge can help reverse years of Wall Street-backed exploitation and consolidation, address the systemic racism that has long warped American farm policy, and create a more equitable, competitive, and safe food system for all."

Lynn's group was among the more than 160 organizations—led by Friends of the Earth—that came together Tuesday for a letter to Biden's team opposing Heitkamp. They warned that the former senator from North Dakota "is the wrong choice for the USDA because she has aligned herself with corporate agribusiness at the expense of family farmers, supports fossil fuel interests, and holds views that are out of step with the Democratic Party and the majority of Americans."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Abortion Rights Groups Sue to Block Post-Roe Trigger Laws in Louisiana

"We will be fighting to restore access in Louisiana and other states for as long as we can," said one reproductive rights campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·


Poll Shows Majority Oppose Supreme Court's Attack on Fundamental Rights

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they're now concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

Julia Conley ·


Global Windfall Profit Tax of 90% Needed to Address 'Catastrophic' Food, Climate Crises: Oxfam

Taxing the excess profits of large corporations within the G7 alone could raise an estimated $430 billion to fight world hunger, deliver vaccines to the entire world, and make a giant dent in the fight to drive down fossil fuel pollution and jumpstart the necessary renewable energy transition.

Jon Queally ·


NATO to Boost Ranks of High-Readiness Forces by 650% to Over 300,000

Anti-war campaigners responded that "this is not the path to peace and will not make the world safer."

Jake Johnson ·


Ilhan Omar Says Plan to Fix Supreme Court Must Include Impeachment Probes

"We need an impeachment investigation into Clarence Thomas' role in the January 6th coup, as well as into Gorsuch, Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh's testimony on Roe during their confirmation hearings," said the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo