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Opposition to Relocation of USDAERS Intensifying


In September, Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Sonny Perdue announced that the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would be moved out of Washington to a yet to be decided location. The justification for the move was to save money and to place the agencies nearer the farming communities they serve. In addition, Dr. Perdue believes that the move from Washington DC would reduce the turnover rate among personnel.

In a letter of protest to Congress, prominent academics, economists affiliated to industry and previous heads of the ERS urged intervention to rescind the decision. Dr. Gale Buchanan, former USDA Chief Scientist stated “The proposed restructuring is a major disruption in the USDA Research arm that provides invaluable support for American food and agriculture.”

Moving the two agencies from Washington would lead to loss of direct engagement with the scientific research community including the National Science Foundation, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service and the National Institutes of Health. The proposal to move the agencies is also opposed by the American Statistical Association.

Having settled in Washington, key personnel may resign if the ERS is relocated from DC to take positions with either other government agencies, universities, consultancies, think-tanks, industry associations or commercial enterprises. This would lead to disruption of activities.

A similar situation occurred when the Services group responsible for approval of biologics within the USDA was moved to Ames, IA. during the 1980s. Although this change was justified based on the need for the group to interact with scientific colleagues at Iowa State University and the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, disruption of activities and resignations impeded approval of biologicals during the two years following the move.