Stakeholders tell Congress their worries about NIFA plans |

Stakeholders tell Congress their worries about NIFA plans

A big coalition of agricultural research organizations and academic institutions last week wrote congressional agricultural leaders that they are worried about the Trump administration’s plans to relocate the National Institute of Food and Agriculture outside Washington.

But the coalition also said the administration’s decision-making process has put land-grant institutions in a difficult position because many land-grant agriculture officials question the move, but the universities also don’t want to be eliminated as possible locations for the USDA agencies if the plan goes forward.

In the letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House agriculture committees and the agriculture appropriations subcommittees, the leaders of the research institutions wrote, “The short timeframe of the announcement and request for expression of interest has placed many of the nation’s land-grant institutions in an untenable position.”

“As these are state institutions, many LGU administrators will feel obligated to submit EOIs or support state EOIs. At the same time, as administrators of scientific research, they also question the impact relocation of NIFA may have on its future role and strength.

“By asking for the EOI prior to allowing for input on the potential relocation of NIFA outside of the NCR (National Capital Region), the department has placed university administrators in the impossible position of risking the elimination of their state as a potential future site should they choose to publicly express concerns about moving NIFA away from the NCR.”

The researchers attached a longer list of questions to the letter, which was dated Sept. 6.

On Sept. 7, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to explain why the Trump administration is proposing the reorganization of the economics function and moving NIFA and the Economic Research Service. The same day, Perdue announced a 30-day extension of the expressions of interest.

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