After only a few days in office, President Trump and his administration have placed a gag order on federal agencies, including the USDA and EPA. Workers are barred from communicating with the press, the public or members of Congress, according to several outlets. A memo was reportedly sent to the EPA, instructing the agency not to publish any press releases, social media posts or blogs until told otherwise.
The Washington Post reports that the chief of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Sharon Drumm sent an email to staff stating, “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.” However, another memo sent out today by USDA Acting Deputy Administrator Michael Young said that he did not review the ARS guidance and would not have sent out such a draft. According to the Post, “his guidance does not place a gag order on publication to scientific journals, does not place a blanket freeze on press releases, or prohibit food safety announcements.”
Earlier this week, President Trump nominated Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia, to lead the USDA.