As if the struggling agriculture sector wasn’t already suffering enough incompetence and damage from Trump, there was a report late last week with some more bad news for farmers courtesy of more Trump incompetence, disregard for expertise, and remuneration to his campaign’s supporters. It didn’t take long for a fair number of Americans to realize that Trump’s definition of highly-qualified government officials is how much money and support they delivered to Republicans and his campaign; his cabinet appointees and White House staff bear out that assertion. So the news that he appointed a truck driver, a cabana attendant, a lawn mowing service owner, and a scented candle-maker to high-level positions at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), although appalling, shouldn’t shock anyone.
Now first it is important to note there is nothing wrong with truck drivers, cabana attendants or scented candle makers; they all provide important services to the public. However, since those people have no experience or expertise in the agriculture sector or international trade, it is abominable that they are now in government jobs crucial to a successful agriculture industry that Trump has personally impacted negatively and possibly permanently. If his intent was to do as much damage in as short a time as humanly possible to a crucial American industry, this is the one area where Trump is winning; and winning big.
A couple of days ago Politico published the results of its review of “dozens” of Trump’s political appointees’ résumés to work at USDA headquarters. What the résumés revealed was that the federal agency overseeing agriculture in America was staffed with campaign workers and volunteers who not only have no experience in federal policy, they are bereft of any experience, let alone “deep roots,” in agriculture.
According to Politico’s review of 42 appointees’ résumés, 22 of them cited “Trump campaign experience” as the reason they deserve important positions and “higher” government salaries. As Politico reported, a fair number of those appointees may have volunteered for Trump’s campaign, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of “required” credentials, such as a college degree, the federal government requires to qualify for significant government salaries.
Sources who are familiar with the USDA’s inner workings say what is different about Trump’s appointees compared to other presidents is that there is an inordinate number of former campaign staffers and volunteers who were “rewarded” with high-level positions and salaries with no experience in agriculture. It isn’t abnormal to reward loyalty and service, but it is extraordinary to appoint “loyalists” or “funders” with no experience. Those USDA sources say, as any half-wit understands, “inexperience will lead to mistakes” and “sidetrack a president’s agenda.” Trump’s agenda thus far appears to be damaging the agriculture industry, so it is possible his appointing know-nothing sycophants is part of his agenda of further damaging American farmers.
The Executive Director of American Oversight, Austin Evers, provided the résumés to Politico for their review after filing a Freedom of Information Act request. Mr. Evers said his organization sought out résumés for Trump’s political appointees across the federal government and discovered “an abundance of former campaign workers” in jobs they have no qualifications for. He said:
“The theme that emerges is pretty clear: What do you have to do to get an administration job? Work on the campaign. There is a clear prioritization of one attribute, and that is loyalty.”
Of course Trump Agriculture Department issued a statement defending the highly paid former campaign workers saying:
“All of the appointees have skills that are applicable to the roles they fill at USDA.”
It isn’t exactly clear what role at the USDA requires cabana attendant or scented candle maker skills, or long-haul truck drivers for that matter, but as a third generation member of a farm family, it doesn’t seem reasonable that those jobs will be beneficial to helping farmers succeed; especially after Trump has damaged the industry with his ineptitude on international trade, immigration, and denying climate change.
One of those appointees, the long haul truck driver, will be at the USDA Foreign Agriculture service to assist the agency’s all important task of “developing overseas markets for U.S. Agricultural trade goods.” He was hired on at one of the highest levels on the federal government’s pay scale and besides citing his “campaign field representative” credentials on his résumé, he boasted his experience at “hauling agricultural commodities” with a truck; something that should impress overseas markets to no end.
The cabana attendant earned a job with the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service that aids “producers of food, fiber and specialty crop growers market their goods.” Politico noted that the “attendant’s only example of work experience prior to joining Trump’s campaign was a short stint as a country club cabana attendant in New York while he was in school earning a degree in history from the University of Scranton in 2016.
One might think that foreknowledge of an industry struggling would prompt Trump to appoint experts in the field, but this is Trump. His incompetence informs why he is appointing inexperienced “loyalists” whose jobs it is to aid farmers that Trump has already caused more grief than they deserve; even though they almost certainly helped put him in the White House. Those farmers are just as responsible for their own woes.
After damaging the industry with his anti-immigration policies that have left farmers crying over their rotting crops due to difficulty finding experienced field workers, Trump exited a trade agreement that favored American farmers. His threats to leave another trade agreement sent America’s agricultural trading partners to seek more amenable trade agreements has already cost the agriculture sector dearly. And his denial that farmers suffering drought conditions are being affected by global climate change portends more long-term damage to farmers.
Now the federal agency tasked with aiding farmers is staffed with people with no experience in agriculture or international trade. It is beginning to appear that Trump is purposely doing everything in his power to decimate the agriculture sector in the same manner he is harming the rest of the federal government; appointing inexperienced people to important federal government positions because they worked on his campaign.