Stabenow asks Perdue to explain relocation troubles
As the formal relocation of the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Kansas City begins Tuesday, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has written Agriculture Secretary Perdue noting her concern about delayed reports and research grants and asking for answers to a series of questions.
Noting that most ERS and NIFA employees have chosen not to relocate and that only a few replacements have been hired, Stabenow wrote, “The department recently told my staff that in the interim, it will hire back retired employees on a part-time basis and detail employees from other agencies to fill in the holes while they hire new employees.”
“It seems counter-productive to terminate current employees to simply hire others back on a part-time basis when the USDA already has enormously high vacancy rates. I request a thorough explanation of how the Department plans to fill its capacity for both NIFA and ERS.”
Stabenow said she expects replies by Oct. 11.
Last week, Politico reported that an internal USDA memo revealed that low staffing levels are hurting data collection and report production and that a union representative said only 19 out of 280 employees chose to move.