Missouri’s House Delegation Makes Pitch to USDA

Who says bipartisanship is dead in Washington? With the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that it will move a pair of its research organizations out of  nation’s capital, Republican U.S. Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler have joined forces with Democrat Emanuel Cleaver to pitch Kansas City as the logical spot for relocation.

“While there are many potential relocation options, we believe Kansas City provides the perfect balance between the various needs of the USDA,” the three said in a letter last week to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.  “With the department’s Risk Management Agency and the Food Safety Administration already located in the Kansas City area, USDA understands the importance of having its core functions outside of the Washington Metro area and the unique benefits of operating in the Kansas City region.

Such a move would bring hundreds of federal jobs to the region and bolster the USDA’s strategy to disperse its physical assets across the nation to help attract more talent from every part of the country. Traffic, cost of living and other challenges in Washington have all contributed to a reduction in the pool of candidates the agency is trying to attract.

It also would place USDA assets closer to organizations and institutions that interact with it, help reduce employment costs and rent, and improve employee retention, the lawmakers said. The bipartisan effort cited five distinct benefits of siting the facilities in this region: available work force and clustering of regional land-grant universities, lower operating costs,  higher employee quality of life, transportation and logistical assets, and central location near primary agricultural value chains in meat and grain production.

“This is just the beginning of a coordinated effort to highlight the obvious benefits the Kansas City region offers the USDA as it looks to relocate these agencies,” the lawmakers said. 

The Economic Research Service is tasked with anticipating trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment and rural America, while the National Institute of Food and Agriculture invests in initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.

Published Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.