Because in what Bloomberg described as a "sign of rising tensions with the farm community," staffers from the USDA's Statistical Service was pulled from a popular but privately run Midwestern crop tour after a government employee was reportedly threatened.
The threat didn't come from somebody involved in the Crop Tour, but the USDA decided to pull all staff as a precaution.
Lance Honig, crops chief at the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, was scheduled to address the tour in Nebraska City Tuesday night, but a video interview with him was screened instead.
"Federal Protective Services were contacted and are investigating the incident," NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer said Wednesday, without giving details on the threat. "The safety of our employees is our top priority."
The animosity toward the USDA might be inspired by the fact that the USDA has been criticized for publishing crop estimates that were larger than anticipated, weighing on the price of agricultural commodities at an already difficult time for American farmers, who have been struggling with the fallout from Trump's trade war with China. Beijing recently revealed that it would scrap plans to buy more soybeans and other American agricultural goods.