Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the decision to move two agencies of the Department of Agriculture from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, to be located between two agricultural research universities. The two agencies are the Economic Research Services and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. What a novel idea, let's bring research closer to the people it affects and serves, the farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses of our country.
From the website: “The mission of USDA's Economic Research Service is to anticipate trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America and to conduct high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision making.” The National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides program leadership in agriculture-related sciences research, education and extension and administer funding at the state and local level in these areas.
Seems to me the work and mission of these two federal agencies will be well served by relocation to our country's breadbasket.
Add to that the positive impact for taxpayers – Perdue announced the move will save taxpayers about $20 million a year – and you have a real win win.
You see, change is hard.
Judging by the news reports this move is nothing short of a catastrophe. Top scientists, researchers and other federal employees refuse to move away beltway bubble. A recent CNBC report stated that those refusing to transfer are creating a "brain drain." Others worry of the loss of too much institutional knowledge. Well, as for institutional knowledge, it can be important but it also cuts both ways. Sometimes, old knowledge needs to be replaced. As for the brain drain, the comment shows the shared bias of the coastal media. In their collective minds no scientist or researcher worth their salt wants to live in the heartland.
After all, people with brains prefer to live in the hot, crowded, blighted and crime-ridden beltway that has been paved and asphalted to within an inch of its life rather than the heartland where it is, you know, green and stuff.
What is Perdue going to expect next? That our valued scientists and researchers actually rub elbows with the people? Unacceptable.
So what did these top scientists, researchers and top-level federal employees do when Perdue made the announcement? How did they react? They stood up and turned their backs on him. Courage. I miss junior high.
There are some that honestly believe a move like this needs more study, that the time may not be right. If not now, then when? Once the initial shock is gone, the whining has stopped and qualified and motivated staff is in place, this move will prove to be a great one. The USDA will be closer to our great land-grant universities and extension services and closer to the people they serve.