Two agencies within the United States Department of Agriculture are set to be relocated halfway across the country, a move that the head of that department says will save taxpayers millions of dollars — but employees within those agencies are not happy about it.
The Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture are both slated to move to the Kansas City, Missouri, area, per an announcement from USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue.
Perdue’s announcement was made on Thursday, when he addressed employees that would be affected by the move. As he delivered his remarks, workers stood up and turned their backs toward their boss. Perdue kept speaking while the silent protest went on.
“Moving you out of the capital area in no way lessens your importance,” Perdue assured his employees, per reporting from CNN.
Many of the workers within those two agencies see it differently. Although Perdue has touted the move as a means to save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 15 years, employees believe that there are ulterior motives to relocating the agencies, including disrupting the research that is being conducted on climate change and its effects on the American agriculture industry.
Employees from two Department of Agriculture research agencies stood and turned their backs to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at an all-hands meeting to silently protest a decision to relocate the agencies halfway across the country. https://t.co/t3MtdlDOnZ pic.twitter.com/BUA4JelHtS
— CNN (@CNN) June 14, 2019
Some watchdog groups who have kept a close eye on this move, which was first announced last August, also view the decision as a back-door way to cut the number of workers within both agencies. The move will ultimately affect 550 employees in total, the Washington Post reported.
The move will also disrupt the way the two agencies work with other government agencies within the federal apparatus.
“This is not just a change of address. It cuts NIFA off from the collaboration with other federal funding agencies in D.C. that are its major partners,” Jack Payne, University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture, warned.
Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.