Trump administration plans to move USDA research divisions despite concerns

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is moving forward with plans to relocate two influential scientific agencies out of downtown Washington, a cost-saving initiative that critics fear could provoke mass resignations among employees who perform critical agricultural research and produce statistics that shape farm policy. In a meeting last week, Chris Hartley, acting administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Economics Research Service, told researchers at that agency to expect reassignment letters in mid-May, according to two ERS employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Although the new location has yet to be announced, Hartley told researchers that they would have about 120 days to uproot their families and report for duty. Of 68 towns and cities in contention to host the agency, College Park and Montgomery County, Md., are within a few dozen miles of its current offices. Many candidates, such as Denver, Des Moines and Kansas City, are hundreds or more than a thousand miles away.

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