Federal scientists pen letter to Congress opposing USDA reorg
- By Sherkiya Wedgeworth
- Oct 03, 2018
More than 1,000 scientists and researchers have joined efforts to express their opposition to a plan to relocate two U.S. Department of Agriculture offices outside of the nation's capital.
“Given the scale of this proposal and the importance of science-based agriculture research and education to our nation's agricultural economy, we urge you to delay the reorganization until Congress and stakeholders have been appropriately briefed, and have been given the opportunity for input into the process,” the letter sent to several key members of Congress and signed by 1,100 USDA scientists and researchers, states.
In August, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced plans to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside of the D.C. area by the end of 2019 in an effort to improve customer service and strengthen offices and programs.
Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) are requesting that the plan be further investigated and are questioning the legality and rationale for USDA’s proposal.
The also group contends that the agency has provided little evidence that the relocation would result in any cost-saving or will improve recruiting and retention.
“[R]relocating NIFA outside of capitol area could hamper the ability of the agency to raise the profile of agricultural research, extension, and education, by preventing collaboration with a broad base of stakeholders and federal agencies, many of whom are based in the capitol area,” the wrote.
“The interdisciplinary research and collaboration that NIFA currently engages in with the Department of Defense; the National Science Foundation; the National Institutes of Health; the Office of Science, Technology and Policy; and myriad other entities in Washington, DC, would also be threatened or even stopped, negatively impacting stakeholders across the country,” the letter continued.
Read the full letter here.