By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Kansas City pulled off a coup, winning an intense competition to land two branches of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agricultural Policy will move from its current location in Washington to Kansas City.
“Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win – maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees,” Secretary Perdue said in a written statement released by the USDA. “The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland. There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve. This agriculture talent pool, in addition to multiple land-grant and research universities within driving distance, provides access to a stable labor force for the future. The Kansas City Region will allow ERS and NIFA to increase efficiencies and effectiveness and bring important resources and manpower closer to all of our customers.”
The USDA estimates it will save $300 million over a 15-year period by moving the agencies to the Midwest. The savings can be used for additional research. State and local governments have offered the USDA $26 million in incentives to move to Kansas City.
The two agencies employ about 500 people.
Kansas First District Congressman Roger Marshall said of the News on Twitter, “Great team effort by so many people to make this happen. Shout out to
@KState and @KUnews in working so diligently with our federal delegation to help make the case for Kansas City. Agriculture and Kansas are truly synonymous – so we thank you, @SecretarySonny!
“The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland. There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve.
This agriculture talent pool, in addition to multiple land-grant and research universities within driving distance, provides access to a stable labor force for the future. The Kansas City Region will allow ERS and NIFA to increase efficiencies and effectiveness and bring important resources and manpower closer to all of our customers.”
Perdue announced last year the Trump Administration planned to move the agencies out of Washington. Nearly 140 locations from 35 states expressed interest with the USDA narrowing the list to three finalists, including Kansas City. The other two were the state of Indiana and Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Graves, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler and Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, joined in a letter touting Kansas City as a prime 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 member of Congress wrote 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.”
Economic Research provides data which the USDA uses to decide policy. The Institute of Food and Agriculture awards more than a billion dollars’ worth of competitive grants on sustainable agriculture.
United States Senators in both Missouri and Kansas also campaigned on behalf of Kansas City, including Sen. Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I am excited to hear USDA selected Kansas City as the new location for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Agricultural research is a critical function of USDA, and I am committed to ensuring we continue to support and strengthen the research mission that our US producers rely on. Kansas City is an obvious choice, as many other USDA agencies in the area partner closely with stakeholders,” Sen. Roberts said in a written statement included in a joint news release issued by all four senators. “The vital research that will occur at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) and already occurs throughout the KC Animal Health Corridor makes Kansas City a natural fit. I am pleased that USDA recognizes the rich resources the heartland provides.”
“Today’s announcement is great news for the Kansas City region and our state,” Sen. Roy Blunt stated. “These agencies will bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to the area and enhance Missouri’s role as a national leader in ag research. Secretary Perdue made the right choice in selecting Kansas City, which is a great place to live and work. The challenges and opportunities have never been greater than they will be in the next 25 years. These research agencies do great work, and will be at the cutting edge of agriculture and well located for assistance and examples as they do their job.”
“After months of advocating to Secretary Perdue that NIFA and ERS ought to be relocated to the Kansas City area, I’m thrilled that USDA has selected Kansas City to house these critical research agencies,” Sen. Jerry Moran stated. “The animal health corridor, stretching from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, is the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, and Kansas is also the home of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility – and today’s decision further bolsters Kansas City’s status as a national leader in the ag industry. It is always positive when our government can operate outside of Washington and closer to the people it serves, and I am certain that the decision to relocate NIFA and ERS to Kansas City is a good one. I look forward to helping welcome these USDA agencies and employees to Kansas City.”
“This is outstanding news for the Kansas City region. We’re home to some of the hardest working farmers in the country, so this is a fantastic decision by the USDA,” Sen. Josh Hawley stated. “As the new home of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Missouri and Kansas will continue to lead in the research and development of American agricultural policy for the 21st century. We are grateful for the job opportunities and renewed partnership this move creates for our state.”