Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that government would move two research agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture out of Washington, D.C., to areas in the United States where food actually comes from, and bureaucrats aren’t happy about that.
On Thursday, the USDA announced plans to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to the Kansas City, Missouri, region, in an effort to put the agencies closer to farming areas.
“Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win,” Perdue said in a Thursday statement, “maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees.”
“There is already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City ‘Ag Bank’ Federal Reserve,” Perdue’s statement concludes. “This agriculture talent pool, in addition to multiple land-grant and research universities within driving distance, provides access to a stable labor force for the future. The Kansas City Region will allow ERS and NIFA to increase efficiencies and effectiveness and bring important resources and manpower closer to all of our customers.”
However, despite those selling points, some government employees showed up to protest the announcement, silently and symbolically turning their backs on their boss in the room.
American Federation of Government Employees members from NIFA snd ERS turn backs on Agriculture Secretary Perdue at session on their unwanted relocation from DC to Kansas City area. #USDA pic.twitter.com/40JlVtuXFl
— Jerry Hagstrom (@hagstromreport) June 13, 2019
— The Hill (@thehill) June 13, 2019
Acting ERS Union Vice President Kevin Hunt called the decision “cold-hearted” and said it “highlights [Perdue’s] disregard for the rights and well-being of employees,” according to CNN. Hunt added, “Secretary Perdue continually speaks of transparency and communicating to employees but has failed on both fronts.”
The idea of moving federal bureaucracies to areas outside of the nation’s capital has floated around for a while. In the last Congress, a handful of House Republicans led by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, introduced the “Drain the Swamp Act of 2017,” which would have required all federal agencies to move their headquarters outside of the D.C. metro area.
Davidson spoke with Conservative Review about the proposal in an on-camera interview: