Ag Policy Blog

Groups Oppose ERS, NIFA Moves, But There is Life Outside the Beltway

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

Former Agriculture Department subcabinet agency heads wrote congressional agriculture leaders this week that they oppose the Trump administration’s plans to move the Economic Research Service under the Office of the Chief Economist, and a coalition of 45 agriculture groups – including many involved in science – wrote agriculture appropriators to urge them to stop the process of moving ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture until a new Agriculture appropriations bill is passed.

The plan to move ERS organizationally and out of Washington threatens the quality of its work, the former officials wrote in a letter organized by the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics and released by the American Statistical Association.

Richard E. Rominger, USDA deputy secretary in the Clinton administration and one of the signers of the letter, said in a news release, “My fear is that moving the agencies out of Washington will diminish their effectiveness in interacting with policymakers in the administration and Congress.”

The 45 agriculture groups wrote, “With USDA funded through December 7 on a continuing resolution, we write to respectfully request you exercise your authorities to convey to USDA that it not take any action to implement any part of the relocations and realignment prior to your action on a final bill. There are many questions in the USDA community about the justification, rapid timeline, and the ramifications of the moves. We believe the justifications and ramifications should be thoroughly examined and understood before USDA moves forward with either the reorganization or the relocations.”

But Brian Rell, chief of staff for House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., told DTN in an email Wednesday, “Chairman Aderholt believes Secretary Perdue’s initiative to examine the potential placement of ERS and NIFA at a location closer to actual agricultural production has merit. To those who feel angst about such a relocation, please rest assured that there is life outside of the Beltway.”

Former USDA officials’ letter to Agriculture Committee http://www.copafs.org/…

Former USDA officials’ letter to Agriculture Appropriations Subcommitteehttp://www.copafs.org/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@njdc.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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