In a sign of rising tensions with the farm community, the Trump administration withdrew staffers from a privately run tour of Midwestern corn and soybean fields after a government employee received a threat. While the threat was made by someone not involved in the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, the U.S. Department of Agriculture opted to pull its staff as a precaution, Hubert Hamer, administrator of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, said by email Wednesday. NASS crops chief Lance Honig was scheduled to address groups on the tour, which comprises farmers, reporters and agribusiness interests scouting crop progress. “Federal Protective Services were contacted and are investigating the incident,” Hamer said, without giving detail on the nature of the threat. “The safety of our employees is our top priority.” The USDA’s data arm has been the subject of ire in recent months after crop estimates surprised traders and growers who had expected the agency to significantly reduce its outlook after rain delayed planting. Corn prices plunged last week on planting data that was higher than analyst expectations. The USDA had already been criticized for its June estimates and took the unusual step of re-surveying farmers to get a more accurate… Read full this story
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