USDA Chooses Kansas City as New Home for Two Research Agencies, in Move that Jeopardizes Science Research

Statement by Mike Lavender, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jun 13, 2019

WASHINGTON (June 13, 2019)—Against the backdrop of mounting staff resignations, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today named Kansas City as the new home of two critical research agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The decision comes as opposition to the secretary’s reorganization reaches an all-time high. Droves of researchers are leaving their posts amid widespread concern about the politicization of federal science. 

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

“The damage was already done before Secretary Perdue made his decision. It was clear from the start that the Trump administration was systematically hollowing out USDA’s ability to produce objective science. The White House proposed budget cuts to eliminate research that’s inconvenient to its interests and at the same time they’ve created this unnecessary relocation crisis, which is driving off scientists who conduct that very research. 

“This is a blatant attack on science and will especially hurt farmers, ranchers and eaters at a particularly vulnerable time. The House Agriculture Appropriations bill includes language to stop the move and we encourage the Senate to follow suit. 

“I’m shocked, but pleased the administration buckled to intense pressure against moving the Economic Research Service under the political side of USDA’s organizational chart. This is the only positive aspect of today’s announcement.”