USDA lifts gag order: report

The Department of Agriculture has reportedly lifted an order that called for scientists and employees of its research arm not to release any of its work to the public.

After a report that the agency had told staff to stop releasing any "news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” BuzzFeed reported that another memo was sent Tuesday night from a top official for the department’s Agricultural Research Service that the original order should not have been issued and “is hereby rescinded.”

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Prior to the memo, the agency disavowed the gag order, calling it “flawed” and indicating that new guidance would be sent to its employees.

“This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued,” the USDA said in a statement.

“ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff. ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”

The Trump administration also instituted a media blackout for employees of the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and the Interior, sparking backlash and concerns that President Trump is attempting to silence any dissenting views and control the messaging from federal agencies.