USA – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to relocate its Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington to Kansas City after carrying out a cost-benefit analysis.

The move is expected to realise about US$300 million in estimated savings over a 15-year lease term on employment costs and rent.

The savings will be used to fund research and projects including rural prosperity and agricultural competitiveness and in case of tight budgets.

The state and local governments will be offered relocation incentives packages totaling more than US$26 million.

“We did not undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to enhance long-term sustainability and success of these agencies,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“The considerable taxpayer savings will allow us to be more efficient and improve our ability to retain more employees in the long run.

“The Kansas City region has proven itself to be hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland.”

The move will involve 294 of the 315 NIFA positions relocating to the Kansas City region and 253 of the 329 ERS positions relocating to the Kansas City region.

The relocation is expected to attract and retain great talent, place USDA resources closer to stakeholders and realize significant savings on employment costs and rent, saving the American taxpayer.

The staff retained at the national Capital Region (NCR) will engage in completing mission critical activities that require physical presence in or near Washington, D.C.

USDA said no ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated and those willing to move will be offered relocation assistance.

“We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C.

“In addition, we are increasing the probability of attracting highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities.

We look forward to this new chapter as we seek to fulfil our motto at USDA, which is to ‘do right and feed everyone’.”

USDA has also announced that it will not go forward with the plans for the realignment of Economic Research Service (ERS) under the Office of the Chief Economist.