On May 9, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue affirmed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s renewed dedication to religious liberty and freedom of speech. In a policy statement released to all USDA employees, Secretary Perdue said, “Today, I want to reestablish this Department’s commitment to safeguarding every American’s First Amendment rights, particularly the right to free speech and the right to religious free exercise. USDA is committed to protecting both.”

Highlighting the need for a climate of mutual respect and tolerance, Perdue added, “I expect each and every USDA employee to uphold their fellow Americans’ First Amendment freedoms. Whether we are inspecting private businesses for compliance with food safety laws or protecting our public lands for recreation, cultivation, and preservation, we must set the example of our nation’s highest ideals. These are lessons we learned as children – that we should be kind to others and treat them with respect. Doing so is not optional, and it is not discretionary.”

The policy memo comes on the heels of President Donald J. Trump's issuing the Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty on May 4.

To read the policy memo in its entirety, please visit the Policy Statement on First Amendment memo.