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Democrats seek to stop USDA agency moves

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House Democrats introduced a bill designed to stop the Trump Administration’s idea of placing the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service under the USDA chief economist. The bill would also prevent the administration from moving most of the 600-plus employees of the ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of the Washington metropolitan area. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue proposed the changes based on the idea that they would increase efficiency, be cheaper, and closer to the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

A total of 136 different communities responded to a USDA request for expressions of interest in hosting the two agencies. However, multiple research organizations have said the changes would not only disrupt the lives of the employees, but it would also diminish the Ag Department’s status as one of the finest agricultural research institutions in the world. The move would also make it difficult for researchers to interact with other federal agencies.

Georgia Representative Sanford Bishop signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill. He says, “Abruptly relocating these agencies and politicizing their leadership will disrupt the important work they are doing and could also cause an unnecessary loss of valuable expertise through possible staffing losses. None of this will be helpful at a time when our farmers are facing retaliatory tariffs and years of declining commodity prices.”