Economists quit Trump admin after their studies showed tariffs hurt US farmers: report

Trump administration economists are quitting their jobs, saying they've faced retaliation for publishing reports highlighting how President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE's tariffs and other trade policies have hurt farmers, Politico reports.

Six economists in the Agriculture Department's (USDA) research branch quit the Trump administration in a single day late last month and more are reportedly planning to leave. The exodus comes after the Economic Research Service (ERS) published findings that painted the new Republican tax law, Trump's trade disputes and other policy decisions as hurting American farmers financially.

A recent report shows a drop in farmers' income by about 50 percent since 2013, and says slightly more than half of farm households have faced negative farm income in recent years, forcing them to rely on other sources of income to support their families.


“The administration didn’t appreciate some of our findings, so this is retaliation to harm the agency and send a message,” an unnamed ERS employee told Politico.

Several other moves by the Agriculture Department have reportedly upset its economists, including Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueFederal judge strikes down Trump's cuts on food stamps for unemployed EU's 'farm to fork' demands could mean indigestion for US food exporters Baldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak MORE's 2018 announcement that the research service would be transitioned to report to the USDA's chief economist and would be physically relocated out of Washington, D.C., and into the U.S. Heartland.

The USDA is planning to keep 76 of the roughly 300 ERS employees in Washington. The other 253 staffers will be relocated.

Economists have also complained about an internal department memo directing researchers to add disclaimers to their peer-reviewed publications to call them "preliminary." Officials argue this addition to reports weakens the legitimacy of the research and makes negative data look less unfavorable.

These complaints, economists told Politico, are why staffers departed in late April and more plan to leave in the near future.

Perdue’s office declined to offer Politico information on employees who have quit.

The news comes as ERS employees are expected to vote on unionization this week, and as Trump has again announced increased tariffs on China. 

Trump's top trade negotiator said Monday that the White House will raise tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods after a setback in trade talks between the U.S. and Beijing.

The president announced Sunday on Twitter that he planned to go through with the tariff hike, which had been indefinitely delayed amid negotiations between the two countries.