Food & Water Watch Calls USDA’s Action “Intimidation”
Washington, D.C. – Last week, a representative from the USDA’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Office informed Food & Water Watch staff that its invitation to participate in a USDA event featuring CFC registered organizations had been cancelled. The representative stated in an email on December 5, “I regret to inform you that I’ve been notified your organization has not been approved for entrance into USDA to attend the USDA-CFC event on December 10, 2013. I do not have specific information on the reason approval was not granted other than the security clearance was not approved based on the organization, not you as individuals.”
This email denial came two weeks after Food & Water Watch staff members were turned away from an earlier CFC event at the USDA on November 20, 2013 when an agency guard insisted the organization was not on the confirmed list for the event, contrary to an email confirmation Food & Water Watch received from the event organizer on November 12, 2013. Food & Water Watch staff has attended multiple CFC fairs over the past several years without incident. The CFC is the Federal Government’s workplace giving program that encourages federal employees’ charitable giving. Food & Water Watch participates in the CFC, #17460.
Despite inquiries, Food & Water Watch has yet to receive any further information from the USDA as to why the organization was refused entry to this charity-related event.
Food & Water Watch has been an active advocate for food safety regulations that serve the public interest, most recently pressuring the USDA to stop implementation of its plan to privatize poultry inspections and import processed chicken products from China—two programs the organization believes will benefit industry, but will harm consumers. In April 2012, Food & Water Watch peacefully demonstrated, along with food inspectors, other food safety advocates and consumers, outside of the USDA wearing chicken suits. Food & Water Watch has also submitted tens of thousands of public comments and petitions to the agency to ensure the safety of the food supply.
“Clearly, we are a thorn in the USDA’s side. But to block us from entry to this event by denying our security clearance is not only bogus—it’s intimidation. But we won’t be intimidated,” said Hauter. “We’ll continue to force the USDA to do its job to protect consumers, not corporate profits.”
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]