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USDA proposed office moves are sparking controversy

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made plans to move two of its departments away from Washington. The divisions to be moved would be Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. (NIFA) This move is coming under scrutiny in the capital.

U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the moves as an effort to get these agencies closer to where they are needed by farmers across the country. Three locations have already been listed as relocation finalists: Indiana, Kansas City, and North Carolina.

House Democrats have been highly critical of the idea. Many current office employees are looking at their options. Many of them oppose what they call a forced relocation. House Ag Biotech Chair Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) says the idea is poorly thought out.

Committee Ranking Member Neal Dunn (R-FL 2nd) backed Secretary Perdue by saying it is hard to attract talented help because of D.C.’s high cost of living.

Dunn says Democrats want the opposite, and their opposition could cost the USDA more money.

USDA ERS employees have already voted to unionize to try and block the move, and NIFA employees are scheduled to vote on June 11th.