USDA Officials’ Communications with Entities Linked to Secretary Perdue’s Family Business

Communications from the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsive to American Oversight’s request for emails between Rural Development and Farm Service Agency officials for Georgia, and entities associated with Secretary Sonny Perdue’s family business interests. These communications span 2017 to 2019.

In These Documents

March 8, 2018: Tas Smith, then the state executive director in Georgia for the USDA Farm Service Agency, replied to a request forwarded by  Jessica Perdue (Secretary Perdue’s daughter-in-law) regarding an undisclosed individual’s farm loan services. Jessica Perdue, who is associated with Perdue Inc., the family business, used an email address with the handle “” in the exchange. Smith wrote, “I regret I was unable to approve his request to transfer farm loan offices.”

Jessica Perdue replied the same day: “I told Jim I would pass it along, no opinion on the outcome on my part. […] There is no doubt in my mind that you have a knack for taking care of whatever situation may come up.”

Smith sent a reply email soon after: “I just think it is so fantastic that Secretary Perdue is in this position leading agriculture for the nation!”

Oct. 14, 2018: Joyce White, the state director for USDA Rural Development in Georgia and a former staffer for Sen. David Perdue — Secretary Perdue’s cousin — forwarded to the secretary a message from an undisclosed individual inquiring about job openings. 

White wrote: “He is looking for any position you may have available that would assist. growers. I will do anything you need me to do with this request. I hate to bother you with [this] kind of stuff.”

April 1, 2019:   White sent Jessica Perdue an email, which has been heavily redacted, but references the recent government shutdown. An unredacted portion of the email’s subject line indicates the message is about a “Loan Issue.”

June 21, 2019:   White emailed Bryan Zulko then the USDA national director of communities of faith and opportunity and asked if Sen. David Perdue could speak at the Community Prosperity Summit at Atlanta, Ga.