By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A big win for the greater Kansas City area, one which could benefit the entire four-state region.
The United States Department of Agriculture has announced it will move its Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington, D.C. to Kansas City.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says it’s a natural fit for the two USDA branches.
“The Kansas City region has proven itself to be a hub for all things agriculture and it is a booming city in America’s heartland,” Perdue tells reporters during a conference call. “There’s already a significant presence of USDA and federal government employees in the region, including the Kansas City Ag Bank, Federal Reserve.”
The USDA estimates it will save $300 million over a 15-year period by moving from DC to Kansas City. More than $26 million in incentives have been offered USDA to make the move. The savings will be plowed back into research, according to the USDA.
Perdue says USDA hopes to complete the move by the end of September.
Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves is pleased with the decision.
“Oh, I was very happy about it,” Graves tells St. Joseph Post. “This is something that we’ve been working on for some time and then Kansas City was announced as one of three (finalists) and obviously there was a lot more excitement and, now, being picked; it’s a great fit. It’s good for the agency, because it’s going to make it more efficient. It brings those agencies closer to the people that they obviously serve and so I think it’s just a great win for everyone.”
Graves expects Missouri to reap benefits from the decision, but adds Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa should benefit as well.
“A lot of people commute to Kansas City for work and you can go five and six counties deep outside the Kansas City area and it’s going to have a big impact, because there’s just a lot of jobs and they’re good paying jobs,” Graves says. “To get them out of Washington, D.C. and into the heartland, it’s going to make them a lot more efficient.”
The USDA announced in August it would move the two agencies, the only two of its branches wholly located in Washington, D.C. The Department of Agriculture heard from 136 locations and narrowed those applying to three finalists: Kansas City, the state of Indiana, and the research triangle in North Carolina.
No specific location has been chosen, yet.