Thirty-five states, including Wisconsin, have submitted a total of 13 “expressions of interest” to become the new home of two U.S. Department of Agriculture facilities, the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
A joint Wisconsin proposal was submitted by the city of Madison, the UW-Madison College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, the UW-Madison Office of University Relations, University Research Park, the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and 910 Mayer LLC.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in August that most ERS and NIFA workers would move out of the Washington, D.C., region by the end of 2019 and invited interested parties to submit proposals. The USDA intends to select the new location or locations by January 2019 and will retain a consultant with expertise in relocations.
States represented in the expressions of interest are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The move will place important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington area. Also, Perdue noted, taxpayers will see savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run, even in the face of tightening budgets. Finally, the plan will improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities.