The U.S. Agriculture Department pulled all of its staff from a farm tour in Iowa after receiving a farmer’s threatening phone call.
Amid lower-than expected corn prices and rising tensions between the Iowa farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the USDA pulled all of its staff from a privately run tour of Midwestern corn and soybean fields on Wednesday after a government employee received a phoned in threat, reported the West Central Tribune.
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.”
“We are taking the threat very seriously and the safety of all those involved in Tour is our top priority,” stated Meghan Vick of ProFarmer.com.
“As a precaution, we are taking steps to secure the remaining location venues, adding security personal [sic] at the live events as well as asking staff and crop tour scouts to remain aware and report any concerns immediately,” Vick stated.
U.S. farmers have complained this month that a government crop report did not reflect damage from historic flooding this spring, reported Reuters.
Farmers are also frustrated about unsold crops due to the trade war with China, falling farm income and tighter credit conditions.