Finalist Sites Named, Groups Restate Opposition to USDA Moves

The Department of Agriculture is eying the Kansas City metro, Purdue University and Research Triangle Park to relocate two department agencies. USDA announced the three finalists Friday as relocation spots for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The controversial move “will help ensure USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government,” and allows USDA to be closer to the agency’s stakeholders, according to agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition says the proposal would result in the loss of skilled staff and bring the potential for politicization of the nonpartisan research agencies. The Coalition says its “deeply disappointed” USDA is pressing forward with the plan, adding that the lack of cost-benefit analysis from USDA is concerning regarding the alleged benefits. USDA plans to release a cost-benefit analysis when announcing the final site.