The USDA failed to obtain congressional approval before relocating two research agencies to Kansas City this summer, said an inspector general's report on Monday. "The budgetary provisions...requiring committee approval are unconstitutional," responded USDA's lawyers in rejecting the standard Capitol Hill requirement for agencies to notify Congress and receive permission to reprogram expenditures.
A new report from Purdue University, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and other groups says that public spending on agricultural research in the United States has plummeted, threatening innovation and public access to information. At the same time, it says, ag research is becoming increasingly privatized.
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 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.
In a highly anticipated announcement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Thursday that the Kansas City region would be the new home of the agency’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Economic Research Service.
Ten months after he announced the initiative, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will meet with USDA employees privately Thursday and then announce to the public the new homes for two research agencies now sited in Washington.
If a House Appropriations subcommittee has its way, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue would be barred from moving two USDA research agencies out of Washington.