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.
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.
Employees of the Economic Research Service voted in a landslide to unionize on Thursday in balloting that was an unofficial referendum on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s plan to move the agency out of Washington in the coming months. A vote on unionization is set for June at the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, also slated for relocation.
The finalists in Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's plan to move two research agencies out of Washington include "multiple" undisclosed sites in Indiana, a symbol of complaints of hidden motives and scanty material to support the move. Separately, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, a perennial USDA research partner, said it feared relocation would damage the effectiveness of the grant-making National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
The USDA is working briskly to move two scientific agencies out of Washington, an aide to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers on Wednesday, despite skepticism on Capitol Hill about whether the relocations are justified. “We anticipate we will have a site recommendation to the secretary in early May,” she said.
A British consulting company will whittle down the list of potential relocation sites for two USDA research agencies in coming weeks with an eye to making a final recommendation after April, the USDA said on Wednesday.
A day after asking for $25 million in moving money, the USDA said on Tuesday that at least 67 sites, predominantly in the Midwest and Plains, are being considered for the new homes of two Washington-based research agencies. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue insists he has the power to move the agencies despite resistance from lawmakers.
Congress is about to send USDA funding for the rest of the fiscal year to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. It will also send him an unambiguous, although nonbinding, message: Don’t move the Economic Research Service or the National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of Washington.
Incoming Agriculture Committee chair Collin Peterson spelled out an ambitious plan for hearings on topics from the farm economy and the trade war to rural broadband and a review of Sonny Perdue’s decision to move two USDA agencies out of Washington.