Staff Pulled From An Annual Crop Tour After Farmer Makes Threat Of Violence
The USDA decided on Wednesday to pull their staff off of an annual crop tour, after an employee was threatened. A source said the threat was made by a farmer during an angry phone call.
The exact date and time of the call are unknown at this time. There have been several complaints lodged against the USDA for their crop report. Several farmers are claiming that the report does not accurately reflect the real amount of damages.
The report fails to identify millions of dollars of damage to crops by historic flooding of the Spring of 2019. There is tense frustrations in the air, the farmers are also effected by the trade wars with China.
They say they have suffered significant income losses due to weather events and politics. Although the Trump Administration has promised farmers continued financial assistance to defray some of the losses.
Police Will Accompany All Staffers For The Duration Of The Crop Tour
The tour which ends on Friday will have police present at all the stops that the tour makes. The USDA is not willing to take any chances with their employees, The agency said on Wednesday ‘the safety of all staff is of paramount concern’.
Lance Honing, an employee with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is one of the employees that was sidelined. The ‘Pro Farmer Tour’ is a privately funded annual event to showcase crops throughout the country.
The tour stopped on Wednesday evening at Coralville, Iowa, a heavy police presence was at the stop. USDA Administrator Hubert Hamer, made a statement that addressed the issue on Wednesday. It read in part, “A USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service employee received a threat. The threat occurred while the employee was on the Pro Farmer Tour. As a precaution we immediately pulled all of our staff out of the event.”
Homeland Security Is Now Investigating The Matter And Interviewing All Parties
The Federal Protective Service, which is part of Homeland Security is investigating the matter. They are taking the threat very seriously but declined to elaborate further.
Chief Elective Officer Andy Weber of Pro Farmer said they have taken steps to ensure safety for the duration of the tour. Weber added that “this is an extremely stressful time for everyone involved and very unfortunate”.
Honig was on the schedule to appear at the Coralville, Iowa stop. He was going to address an audience of at least 600 people and answer questions about the crop report. He was also going to appear at another event on Thursday in Rochester, Minnesota.
Honig did appear via video on Wednesday to defend the crop report of the USDA. He said 21,000 farmers were evaluated and that is what the data was based on. Farmers on the tour, expressed their frustrations with the USDA. They didn’t criticize President Trump, they still said they support him, but laid the blame squarely on the USDA.