USDA’s plan to move offices sparks concerns about research

National News

June 14, 2019 - 4:53 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it will relocate two research agencies’ headquarters to the Kansas City area, delighting Kansas and Missouri officials but intensifying critics’ fears that research will suffer and be less accessible to federal policymakers.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that moving most employees out of Washington will bring the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture closer to farmers and agribusinesses they serve. He also said the USDA would save about $20 million a year on rent and other employee costs, freeing up extra dollars for research.

Members of the Kansas and Missouri congressional delegations and the two states’ governors praised the USDA’s move, saying the research agencies are a good fit for their region. The USDA said nearly 550 of the roughly 640 jobs will move, and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat, said they will pay between $80,000 and $100,000 a year.

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