The U.S. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing March 27 to examine the impacts of relocating two USDA agencies. USDA has initiated a process to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside of the nation’s capital and place the ERS under the purview of the Chief Economist.
In prepared remarks, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Georgia, chairman of the House Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the relocation in August without prior notice to anyone.
“Since that announcement, this committee has heard from many, many stakeholders,” Bishop said. “But to date, there has been little or no debate about this proposal in a public forum.”
Bishop has cosponsored a bill to stop the move and asked Perdue for more information. USDA has continued to ignore his requests and move forward, he said.
“That is why I decided to hold this hearing,” Bishop said. “In fact, it would be irresponsible not to have a hearing on this proposal as it has far-reaching implications. I intend to examine USDA’s intentions and any analysis that was done by the department about the consequences associated with relocated NIFA and ERS.”
On the heels of the meeting, National Farmers Union urged USDA to stop the move.
“ERS and NIFA play an important role in helping family farmers and ranchers improve productivity, steward our nation’s natural resources, and access global markets and trade,” said NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications Rob Larew. “As the economic and environmental challenges facing family farmers and ranchers mount, it is critical that USDA prioritize the work of the agencies and maintain the integrity and impact of public research. Farmers Union urges USDA to end the relocation of these two important agencies.”
NFU sent a letter to USDA in September highlighting the NFU Board of Directors opposition the ERS and NIFA proposal.
What others are saying:
More than a hundred organizations sent a letter to Congress urging appropriators to block the USDA relocation and reorganization of ERS and NIFA. – Phys.org
The letter urges congressional intervention through bill language in fiscal 2020 agricultural appropriations language stating that no funding be used for relocation or reorganization of ERS and NIFA outside the nation’s capital. – Feedstuffs.com
Every Republican on the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter backing Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s proposal to relocate the agencies. – Politico.com