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Trump's Ag Secretary Just Skirted the Senate to Appoint These Corporate Flacks

Here’s what to know about the USDA’s new deputies.

A presidential administration already shot through with corporate execslobbyists, and retainers just got two more.

On Tuesday, US Agriculture Department chief Sonny Perdue appointed Scott Hutchins, who once directed global pesticide R&D for Dow AgroSciences (now Corteva), as the department’s deputy undersecretary for research, education, and economics, and named Mindy Brashears, a Texas Tech professor who, over the last six years, has earned $320,000 in income from consulting and research work for the meat industry, as deputy undersecretary for food safety.

In the same announcement, Perdue named Naomi Earp as deputy assistant secretary for the USDA’s civil rights division.

Perdue’s decision to directly appoint the three to deputy posts—without Senate confirmation—was a highly unusual move. Each of them had been nominated to undersecretary posts last year, roles that would have put them in charge of important agencies within USDA. But such management positions require confirmation in the Senate, and all three saw their appointments languish without a vote before the 115th Congress ended.

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