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Ag Secretary in West MI talks to farmers, says poor people receiving food assistance better not get used to their “lifestyle”

February 6, 2018

Last Thursday, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, visited Robinette Orchards in Grand Rapids Township and spoke with farmers and farm lobbyists, according to an article on MLive

Perdue had a particular message to people who received federal food assistance:

“For able-bodied adults without dependents who have taken this program as a lifestyle and are not looking for work, we want to send a message to them,”

Perdue was basically saying to a crowd of people who receive massive federal subsidies through the Farm Bill, that people who benefit from federal food assistance programs that they are screwed.

Such contempt for poor people is not new, since the 2014 Farm Bill cut $8.6 billion for food assistance. However, we can ascertain from the Ag Secretary’s remarks that further cuts to federal food assistance are likely to happen.

The irony of such comments from Perdue, especially considering the US Farm Bill is a nothing short of massive corporate welfare for agri-business (large farmers who generally grow mono-crops). While Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue himself made sure that some of the largest Georgia corporate farmers benefited from an earlier version of the Farm Bill.

Also ironic is the fact that Michigan farmers have received over $5 billion in subsidies over the past 20 years, according to the Environmental Working Group data base. Apple growers, like Robinettes, have been the beneficiaries of over $27 million is federal subsidies over the past two decades.

One question that was posed to Perdue, while he was in Grand Rapids Township, had to do with the shortage of migrant farm workers, which those in the agribusiness sector rely on. There is no response from Perdue in the MLive article, to the question about migrant labor, but based on his track record as Governor of Georgia, we could draw some conclusions.

In 2006, Perdue said:

“It is simply unacceptable for people to sneak into this country illegally on Thursday, obtain a government-issued ID on Friday, head for the welfare office on Monday and cast a vote on Tuesday.”

Perdue signed into law several measures that would crackdown on undocumented immigrants, while he was Governor of Georgia. 

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