In the News
Republican and Democratic officeholders from Missouri and Kansas don’t often vote in a unified bloc, but they agree on one thing: the Kansas City area would be ideal as a headquarters for new Department of Agriculture facilities.
Lawmakers from the two states have urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to pick Kansas City as the new home of the USDA Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Perdue announced earlier this month that Kansas City had made the short list of locations being considered for the federal agencies. The others are Indiana, with the lead applicant being Purdue University, and the Research Triangle region near Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The USDA’s top officials said this list “took into consideration critical factors required to uphold the important missions of ERS and NIFA,” while also taking into account resources important to employees.
In a letter to Perdue last week, 11 members of the Missouri and Kansas congressional delegations said a location in Kansas City fits the bill for USDA’s needs.
“As you continue to evaluate the finalists, we are confident you will find Kansas City to excel in each of the criteria considered by USDA: capital and operating costs, workforce, logistics and quality of life for employees,” the letter to Perdue said, in part.
Missouri lawmakers signing the letter were Sens. Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley and Reps. Sam Graves, Emanuel Cleaver II and Vicky Hartzler. The Kansans were Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, along with Reps. Steve Watkins, Ron Estes, Roger Marshall and Sharice Davids.
Last August, the USDA announced a reorganization effort that would include the relocation of the two agencies.
At that time, it cited a need to improve the department’s ability to attract and retain staff; to place the agencies in closer proximity to stakeholders; and to create savings for taxpayers.
“Relocation will help ensure USDA is the most effect, most efficient and most customer-focused agency in the federal government,” Perdue said.
Promoting the Kansas City option, lawmakers from the two states said the metropolitan area has major-city amenities and capacity while being at the heart of the agricultural area that the department serves.
They also touted the animal health corridor that stretches out on most sides of Kansas City, one that includes St. Joseph and its bio-science industries.
“Relocating ERS and NIFA to the middle of the country provides an opportunity to enhance the agencies’ respective roles within USDA and their ability to serve farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” the letter read.
According to the USDA, the Economic Research Service works to “anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment and rural America.”
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture helps fund programs that advance agriculture-related sciences.
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