Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; and Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, D-Michigan, sent a letter June 5 to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Administrator of the General Services Administration Emily Murphy seeking information about the Donald Trump administration’s abrupt plans to relocate the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service outside the Washington, D.C. metro area.
Specifically, the senators requested information on all costs related to relocation of the agencies, the rationale behind the decision made by USDA to relocate both agencies, the ability of USDA to carry out its research mission, a comprehensive timeline of relocation plans, and whether or not USDA is following the requirements and practices related to property leasing and management for federal agencies.
“We are concerned that the administration’s plans to relocate these agencies will hamper the ability of the agencies to achieve their important research missions, add unnecessary expenses, increase staff turnover and hinder the recruitment and retention of staff at NIFA and ERS,” the senators wrote.
“For many years, our committees have strengthened agricultural research and worked to pass legislation right-sizing the federal real property inventory, improving management of agency real property portfolios and cutting down on unnecessary real estate expenses. Given the limited information provided to the Congress about the proposed move, it is unclear if the administration is following the intent of these laws. As the success of our agricultural economy is rooted in sound science and research, disrupting these important research agencies with this relocation and reorganization raises many questions about the impact it will have on agriculture,” the senators continued.
The text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2QPYnFm.