Ag Policy Blog

Bill Would Stop USDA's NIFA, ERS Moves

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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USDA's proposal to move the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of the Washington, DC, metro area remains a plan that is generating more and more opposition.

The latest voices that have been added to the choir opposing the move are all Democratic members of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. The lawmakers, headed by Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis., introduced legislation Thursday to thwart the move.

The Agriculture Research Integrity Act of 2018 would specify that ERS, NIFA and the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) remain under the Undersecretary for Research Education and Economics, and "may not be vested in the head of another agency within the Department." That provision aims at the plan to reorganize the reporting structure for ERS and NIFA, putting them under the Office of the Chief Economist.

As for the physical relocation of ERS and NIFA to somewhere outside the Washington, DC, metro, the legislation simply states those agencies must remain "within the National Capital Region."

The legislation is also backed by some Democratic members of the House Ag Committee along with Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Further, given that the bill was drafted by House appropriators, it's likely they will use their power in the new Congress to block USDA from making the ERS and NIFA moves.

The American Statistical Association praised lawmakers for the bill.

“We fully endorse the intent of this week’s House bill to keep the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in the national capital region and the ERS in the USDA research arm,” said Ron Wasserstein, executive director of the American Statistical Association (ASA). “The nation’s capital and the current organization alignment best position these two agencies to support American food, agriculture and rural communities through research, analysis and statistics.”

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