Trump Administration’s USDA Relocation “Contest” Makes Mockery of Agricultural Research, Says Science Group

Statement by Mike Lavender, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Mar 12, 2019

WASHINGTON (March 12, 2019)—The White House announced that it is considering 67 locations as semifinalists in its search for a new home for two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research agencies, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). One proposed location that evidently meets USDA’s rigorous criteria to house these world-class agencies was recommended by a “private citizen” in Hanover Township, Pennsylvania. Academic, economic and governmental institutions made only a handful of bids. ERS and NIFA are responsible for researching critical issues, including food safety and security, nutrition assistance, rural job markets, sustainable farming practices and international trade policies.

This move is yet another example of the Trump administration weakening agricultural research and scientific integrity in policymaking, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Mike Lavender, senior manager of government affairs in the Food and Environment Program at UCS.

“The Trump administration’s reality TV-style contest to relocate USDA research agencies makes a mockery of food and agricultural research. The White House continually touts its support for farmers, ranchers and rural economies, but has worked to systematically dismantle evidence-based research and programs that serve those very constituents. Just yesterday it proposed a 7 percent cut to the USDA research portfolio. Moreover, the administration has developed this proposal with little to no stakeholder input.”