The USDA has a permanent home for two research agencies, four months after announcing they would move to “the Kansas City region” and weeks after employees began reporting to work at temporary quarters.
Thanks to the Trump administration’s decision to move the agency out of Washington, the USDA’s Economic Research Service is losing its top expert on market consolidation at a time when declining competition in agriculture is under increased scrutiny from policymakers and government officials.(No paywall)
The United States and Mexico are among the world’s largest corn producers, and both are expanding production. A USDA report says that despite their geographic proximity, there are fundamental differences in the “corn economies” of the two countries.
Climate change is expected to lower U.S. corn, soybean, and wheat production and drive up the cost of the federally subsidized crop insurance program. The increase could be as small as 4 percent or as large as 37 percent, depending on how much temperatures rise and whether mitigation efforts are effective, said a USDA report on Monday.
With the USDA on the cusp of moving two research agencies to Kansas City, a senior official said on Thursday that massive staff turnover — so far, 250 employees have declined to leave Washington — is par for the course for cross-country relocations. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow offered a different take: “This is not a relocation. It’s a demolition.”
Newly hired USDA employees will begin work in Kansas City on Monday as part of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s decision to move two research agencies out of Washington. The USDA said it would use “an aggressive hiring strategy” to replace the 250 staffers who declined the offer to move halfway across the United States.
The government has extended the deadline for bids from Kansas City real estate companies looking to house two USDA scientific agencies, while the current landlord for one of those agencies contests the relocation, reported Politico.
The USDA is already recruiting employees to replace Economic Research Service staff workers who will not relocate to Kansas City this summer, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
The U.S. House opened debate on a mammoth federal spending bill, including money for the USDA, on Tuesday under the threat of a presidential veto of the $322 billion bill. The White House said it opposed half a dozen USDA provisions in the bill, including language that would preclude relocating two research agencies to Kansas City and implementing a new inspection system for hog-slaughter plants.
The USDA failed to follow federal guidelines when it determined it would save money by moving two research agencies to Kansas City, said a review by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association on Wednesday.