Following Push from Merkley, Senate Democrats, Inspector General Opens Investigation into Suppression of Science at USDA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today to announce that Phyllis K. Fong, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has opened an investigation into potential suppression and alteration of scientific reports, documents, and communications by political appointees at USDA.

Today’s announcement followed a June request by Senators Merkley, Hirono, Stabenow, and 16 Senate Democrats to initiate the investigation, following widespread reports of politically motivated decision making at USDA. These decisions reportedly led to suppression of climate science, the unnecessary relocation of USDA scientists, and potential retaliation against career Department employees.

“American farmers and ranchers deserve an administration that is dedicated to giving our agricultural industry the support it needs to succeed—not one that prioritizes petty politics and personal whims over getting the job done,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that Inspector General Fong has opened this investigation, so we can make sure the dedicated public servants of the USDA are able to do their jobs without unethical political interference from the Trump administration.”

A copy of Inspector General Fong’s letter in response to the Senators’ request can be found here.