BLOGNew Ag Secretary Has Opportunity to Correct USDA Overreach, Defend Rights of This Family Business

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | May 03, 2017

When Sonny Perdue was confirmed as the new Secretary of Agriculture last week, he was undoubtedly stepping into a big role with nearly 100,000 employees and a $155 billion budget.

But Sec. Perdue has an opportunity to defend the constitutional liberties of USDA employees and the businesses they oversee right away. And he need look no further than a family-owned meatpacking business in western Michigan.

After the 2015 Supreme Court decision that redefined marriage, West Michigan Beef Company’s owner Don Vander Boon noticed a number of articles in his company’s breakroom celebrating same-sex marriage. He decided to offer a differing perspective. So, he added an article to the breakroom tables expressing the belief that marriage should be understood as the union of one man and one woman.

He didn’t remove articles supporting same-sex marriage from the table. He didn’t ask any of his employees to read the article he added. He just added a different viewpoint and walked away.

That was too much for the USDA. An on-site USDA inspector saw Don’s article, removed it from the breakroom table, and confronted Don about it. A USDA official threatened to remove the on-site inspectors from Don’s business if Don did not agree to keep the article out of the breakroom. This would essentially shut down West Michigan Beef Company since meatpacking businesses like Don’s cannot legally operate without an on-site USDA inspector.

You see, the USDA had recently issued a policy statement prohibiting written or oral communications that USDA officials consider “disrespectful” or “insult[ing]” on the basis of sexual orientation or political belief.

Apparently, expressing the longstanding religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman is no longer acceptable. Even more worrisome is the fact that government officials are using their overwhelming power to silence speech they don’t like.

We are a better, stronger country when we allow viewpoints other than those prevailing in our culture. We don’t have to agree, but we do need to uphold the right of every individual to speak freely and voice their beliefs without fearing government punishment.

Don filed a complaint with the USDA in 2015 regarding the suppression of his speech and religious exercise, but the USDA has failed to resolve the issue. Now Sec. Perdue has the opportunity to defend the constitutional principles of free speech and religious freedom as one of his first acts as the USDA Secretary. What better way to kick off his leadership of the USDA than to uphold the Constitution?

After all, everyone should be able to bring their beliefs to the table.


Get important updates on this matter and others like it delivered directly to your inbox.

When you sign up to receive email updates from Alliance Defending Freedom, you’ll receive the latest news on cases that impact your religious freedom.


Keep Me Updated

Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

More from ADF View All

Lawsuit against Hawaii Churches Hurts the Surrounding Community

Religious Freedom

Lawsuit against Hawaii Churches Hurts the Surrounding Community

The community gains nothing if the case is allowed to move forward. These chu...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 05/19/2017 18:00:00 Read More

This Seemingly Innocent Ordinance Is a Major Threat to Your Privacy

Marriage and Family

This Seemingly Innocent Ordinance Is a Major Threat to Your Privacy

While proponents argue that sexual orientation gender identity ordinances pro...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 05/23/2017 18:00:00 Read More

Hollywood’s New Video Tribute to Planned Parenthood is Misleading at Best and Dangerous at Worst

Sanctity of Life

Hollywood’s New Video Tribute to Planned Parenthood is Misleading at Best and Dangerous at Worst

Abortion advocates are doing women and girls in need a huge disservice by try...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 05/22/2017 18:00:00 Read More

End of the Term at the Supreme Court: Four Cases We’re Watching

Culture

End of the Term at the Supreme Court: Four Cases We’re Watching

Here are four decisions ADF is watching for from U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 05/19/2017 22:38:36 Read More