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USDA plans to restructure, relocate research units

September 06, 2018

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue made an announcement in early August affecting two research units: Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. ERS will revert to part of the Office of the Chief Economist, and both units will be relocating outside of Washington, D.C. by the end of 2019. While plans to move NIFA from its current building have been anticipated, the relocation of both offices outside of the District had not been previously made known, even to staff. Placing ERS into a political office and moving the units outside of the main employment zone for public economists has raised concerns, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, that the moves may be aimed at sidelining and reducing USDA research overall. Perdue’s statement framed the effort as best for customers and taxpayers. The Department is currently seeking expressions of interest from regions interested in hosting the relocated units.