WASHINGTON– Ten months after introducing a plan to relocate and reorganize two major agricultural research agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on June 13 that it will move the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS) to the Kansas City region.
National Farmers Union’s (NFU) 200,000 family farmer and rancher members depend on objective, publicly funded science to make critical business decisions. Due to concerns about how the proposal could both undermine the integrity of NIFA and ERS’s research as well as diminish the role of science in policymaking, NFU has urged the USDA and Congress to suspend the move. In response to USDA’s announcement and apparent disregard for widespread opposition to its plan, NFU President Roger Johnson restated the organization’s dissent and again called on Congress to prevent the process from moving forward.
“Family farmers and ranchers wear dozens of hats – in addition to growing food, they are also business owners, scientists, marketers, and technicians. Mastering all these drastically different skills requires access to objective, science-based solutions – and it requires evidence-based policies that support those solutions. Moving NIFA and ERS farther away from our nation’s capital, as the USDA intends to do, could negatively impact the ability of these agencies to produce and fund high-quality research and communicate with legislators, which could, in turn, make it that much more difficult to be a farmer.
“We are extremely frustrated that our serious concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Even in light of all of these possible repercussions, USDA is barreling forward with this ill-conceived plan. Their slapdash approach has already disrupted operations and eroded morale at both NIFA and ERS. Before additional damage is done, we strongly urge Congress to act swiftly to put an end to this destructive relocation and reorganization.”