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 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.
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.