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House Introduces Legislation to Retain ERS and NIFA in Washington, DC Area


Democratic members of the House have introduced Bill HR 7330 to permanently keep the USDA-Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the Washington, DC area.


In early August, Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue announced plans to relocate both agencies to an area outside Washington, DC.  The motivation was to save money on housing these agencies and to and to move them “closer to the constituencies they serve”.  In addition, it was proposed that the ERS would be moved from the jurisdiction of the Head of Research Education and Economics to the Office of the Chief Economist.  


It is anticipated that the 116th Congress seated on January 3rd will pass the Bill negating the intent of the USDA Secretary. Dr. Perdue intends to announce the location of the two agencies from among 136 bids from communities offering to host the agencies.  The Bill would also block the plan to move the agencies to the office of the Chief Economist.


The intention to move the two agencies is widely opposed by academics and economists in addition to retired USDA officials based on disruption, and separation from existing Federal agencies, universities and other resources which are closely interlinked in the Washington, DC area.


The intent by Dr. Perdue to move the agencies is partly based on a Presidential directive to restructure the Federal government but is also predicated by Senate Bill S2592 introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to redistribute Federal agencies outside the Washington, DC and her parochial interest in relocation to either Des Moines or Ames, in her Iowa constituency.


Those in favor of the move are reminded of the adage “If it ‘aint broken don’t try and fix it”