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Union, USDA reach agreement regarding relocation

USDA employees have until Sept. 27 to make decision on relocation, some employees already in Kansas City

The American Federation of Government Employees has reached a deal with USDA that gives employees until Sept. 27 to make a final decision on relocating to the Kansas City area, according to Fedweek.com.

The agreement also allows those who agree to relocate to work remotely through the end of the year and it provides a relocation incentive payment of a month’s salary. The union will continue to oppose the moves.

Employees who relocate to Kansas City must sign an agreement to remain at their jobs in Kansas City for at least a year, Federal News Network reported.

The Trump administration argues the relocation is a cost-saving measure that will bring federal workers closer to the people they serve. Opponents say the relocation is part of an effort to diminish agency power and force out career officials, according to a Sierra Club article.

An Inspector General’s report said the USDA has not received congressional approval as required under law, FedSmith.com reports.

The report didn’t change the administration’s plans to move forward with the relocation, the Federal News Network reported. The first ERS, NIFA employees are reported to already be working at the new site at the Beacon Center in Kansas City.

In this youtube video, White House chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney explains why they are relocating the ERS and NIFA offices.

Even if the relocation was justifiable, according to an opinion article in NWFDailyNews.com, the USDA’s handling of the process has been deplorable. The loss of talent and institutional knowledge creates an irreparable tear in the fabric of the agency.

Democrats have repeatedly questioned the reason for the move, while Republicans have stood behind the administration.

“It is still unclear to me what problem the USDA is trying to solve with this move. ... We do know what problems it is creating,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said at a July hearing, going on to call it “a thinly veiled, ideological attempt to drive away key USDA employees.”

Missouri’s senior senator, Sen. Roy Blunt, is praising the decision to relocate in this interview with Missourinet.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson say they are working together with USDA to relocate the offices to the region.

Want to explore the topic further? Here’s our earlier coverage.

ERS, NIFA relocation saga continues - USDA’s Office of the Inspector General concluded this week that USDA may have broken the law in its decision to relocate the agencies without first obtaining congressional approval.

Mulvaney: NIFA, ERS relocation is ‘wonderful way’ to shrink government – Many employees are quitting and will be replaced with new hires.

Democrats, NFU blast ERS, NIFA relocation plans - National Farmers Union is calling USDA’s relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside the nation’s capital “misguided” and “detrimental to family farmers and ranchers and rural communities” on the grounds that it will diminish the influence and hinder the operations of both agencies.

What’s being said about ERS, NIFA relocation? – A high amount of turnover is expected as the states of Kansas and Missouri offer incentives to locate the ERS, NIFA offices in their part of Kansas City.

AAEA says ERS, NIFA relocation will not save money – The cost to taxpayers ranges from $37 million to $182 million, according to AAEA analysis.

Perdue announces Kansas City as location for ERS, NIFA location – Perdue says the move will save $20 million per year.

Hearing explores NIFA, ERS relocation – Concerns about the ramifications of reorganizing and relocating the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture were aired.

Perdue plows ahead with USDA relocation – Perdue announced the top three finalists still in the running to be the new ERS, NIFA headquarters.

Subcommittee examines proposed NIFA, ERS relocation – Republican lawmakers solidly behind Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, but more than 100 organizations opposed to move.

Lawmakers oppose NIFA, ERS relocation - Reps. Chellie Pingree and Sanford Bishop last week reintroduced the Agriculture Research Integrity Act of 2019, which would oppose the relocation of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside the nation’s capital.

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