Posted by: maboulette | July 5, 2019

Agriculture Dept. Plan to Move Economists to Kansas City Region

ag department

The Agriculture Department announced on June 30 that it planned to relocate two scientific divisions to the Kansas City region from Washington, despite resistance from career staff members and concern that the move will eat away at the quality of research at the agency.

500 JOBS

More than 500 jobs will shift across the country as the department moves its Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture with the intent of bringing research closer to the agricultural communities that it serves. The move is projected to save the department nearly $300 million over 15 years


The move follows a nearly yearlong process to find a new home for the divisions. Plans for the relocation have generated a backlash from employees who have been fearful about their jobs being moved and who have speculated that the Trump administration is trying to stifle research that at times has clashed with its political.


.“The U.S.D.A. has provided no rational justification to employees, to Congress or to its stakeholders for this move, which will make it harder for the agencies to coordinate with other science and research agencies,” said J. David Cox Sr., the national president of the American Federation of Government Employees. “We will continue to work with Congress and other parties to fight this wrongheaded proposal, which is little more than a backdoor way to slash the work force and silence the parts of the agencies’ research that the administration views as inconvenient.”


For years, economists at the Agriculture Department have churned out studies that forecast the effects of food trends, environmental changes and trade policy on rural America. But these days, career staff members at the Economic Research Service have been anxiously trying to predict their own futures.


Last year, after an economist with the division presented research that contradicted the Trump administration’s views about the president’s signature tax cuts, the Agriculture Department put into effect new rules about submitting work to peer-reviewed journals.


But many critics see the relocation plan as another attempt by the Trump administration to diminish the role of science in government policymaking. Economists at the research service, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their views of the office’s internal dynamics, said they believed they were being shipped out of town as retribution for producing work that clashed with the administration’s agenda.


Staff members are expected to move by the end of September, but some employees facing relocation had already begun leaving the divisions in recent months. Many more are expected to quit or seek transfers to other government agencies in the coming weeks.

 “Some have expressed displeasure with this, as you might expect, and that’s understandable,” he said, noting that workers in Washington have many job options. “We didn’t do this with disruption in mind.”


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