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Minnesota entities vie to be home for USDA’s relocated offices

A total of 136 expressions of interest from 35 states have been received by USDA.

March 21, 2019

2 Min Read
USDA building in Washington D.C.
ON THE MOVE: USDA will relocate most of the staffs associated with its Washington, D.C.-based ERS and NIFA to a yet-to-be-named state. Camrocker/Getty Images

Minnesota is one of 35 states that has had interested parties apply to USDA to become the new home for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

A total of 136 expressions of interest from 35 states were received by USDA.

Several entities in Minnesota have express interest and applied. They are the Opus Group, Shakopee; the University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership, the Minnesota Food and Agriculture Initiative, all based in Minneapolis; and Buhl Investors, Falcon Heights.

Last August, USDA agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue announced that most ERS and NIFA personnel would be moving outside of Washington, D.C., by the end of 2019 and invited interested parties to submit proposals. USDA had intended to select the new location or locations by January 2019.

Perdue noted in a news release that interest from across the country had been overwhelming as localities, universities, private entities and elected officials realized the potential for their communities to become the new home for these two agencies.

Along with Minnesota, other states expressing interest are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The entities expressing interest in hosting ERS and NIFA include educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, state development agencies, county development agencies, municipalities and for-profit entities.

USDA has also received letters of support from a number of governors, members of Congress, farm-related organizations, and state and local officials. It is possible that ERS and NIFA will be co-located when their new homes are found. A yet-to-be-determined amount of staff from the two agencies will remain in the National Capital Region.

USDA is undertaking the relocations for a variety of reasons. The move will place important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, D.C., area.

Additionally, USDA officials say taxpayers will realize savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets.

Finally, the plan will improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities.

Perdue also noted that 91% of USDA’s approximately 108,000 employees currently work outside of the Washington, D.C., region.

As part of the changes, ERS will be aligned with the Office of the Chief Economist under the Office of the Secretary. This represents a return to its previous positioning when ERS was aligned under the Assistant Secretary for Economics within the Office of the Secretary.

Source: USDA, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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