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USDA relocation from D.C. to Kansas City will benefit farmers, MU officials say

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will relocate the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service from the nation’s capital to Missouri

June 13th, 2019

Story Contact: Liz McCune, 573-882-6212, mccunee@missouri.edu

COLUMBIA, Mo. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will relocate its National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Service (ERS) from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City. This relocation will benefit the state, its farmers and Missouri’s $88.4 billion agriculture industry while providing a unique opportunity for the University of Missouri to work closely with these agencies.

   

“MU has some of the most accomplished researchers in agricultural science and policy, and this is an incredible opportunity to strengthen our working relationship with our partners at the USDA,” MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “The relocation of these two agencies will only enhance our region’s status as a powerhouse in agriculture, both in terms of federally funded research and in generating real, practical solutions to crises — regional and worldwide — such as food insecurity and workforce shortages.”

   

The missions of these agencies of the USDA closely echo MU’s own land-grant mission: to invest in and advance agricultural research, education and Extension to solve societal challenges. Christopher R. Daubert, vice chancellor and dean of the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, said this common ground will be a key part of joint efforts between the agencies and MU.

   

“We are very supportive of this relocation and welcome NIFA and the ERS to the Midwest,” Daubert said. “We look forward to working closely with both agencies, and welcome the potential for new collaborations. We also appreciate the opportunity to work with colleagues in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor and the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City.”

   

The relocation could lead to partnerships and collaboration among MU, the ERS and NIFA in teaching and research, Daubert said, in addition to employment and internship possibilities for students. The MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources is home to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), a group that provides objective analysis of issues related to agricultural markets and policies. This aligns closely with the goals of the ERS, which communicates research results and socioeconomic indicators via briefings, analyses for policymakers and their staffs, market analysis updates and major reports.

   

“The land-grant mission is alive and well in Missouri and in the Midwest,” Daubert said. “The faculty, staff and students across our campus, along with our peer land-grant institutions across the Midwest, are ready to help our USDA colleagues adapt to the Kansas City region as we work to strengthen U.S. agriculture around the world.”

   

In addition, Daubert said the NIFA strategic plan shares many similarities with his college’s strategic plan: Drive to Distinction.

   

Over the past 10 years, FAPRI, along with the college’s other Programs of Distinction — including the Interdisciplinary Reproduction and Health Group, the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, the Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program and the Center for Agroforestry — have received close to $80 million in funding from the USDA. The college’s network of Agricultural Research Centers across the state help MU’s world-renowned plant and animal sciences researchers take their research from the lab to the field.

   

Kansas City was one of the top three locations under consideration for the relocation. Criteria included quality of life, costs, workforce and logistics/IT infrastructure. More than 130 expressions of interest were submitted from parties in 35 states for the relocation. For the Kansas City proposal, the applicants were the Kansas City Area Development Council and the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

  

According to the USDA, the relocation will help the department to be closer to its stakeholders and move resources closer to its customers. In addition, the move looked at taxpayer savings on employment costs and rent, as well as the USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interest in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities.

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