USDA tells lawmakers ERS & NIFA will thrive in K.C.

USDA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Research says the move of ERS and NIFA agencies to Kansas City is complete and hiring is underway.

Scott Hutchins testified at House Ag subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research hearing this morning, “Be assured that we are committed to both ERS and NIFA will thrive in their new location and continue their service to U.S. agriculture.”

Subcommittee Chairwoman Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands said in her opening statement that 214 ERS positions are vacant, a vacancy rate of 65% while NIFA’s vacancy rate is 76%. Because of that she said some grant recipients won’t receive their funds until March 2020. Hutchins agreed that was the case.

Hutchins addressed the loss of employees who elected not to move to Kansas City, “While it’s true that we have lost some excellent talent in both of those agencies, we have every confidence that we’ll be able to replace that.”

Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler agreed, “Being in the Heartland, we are very excited about this move and concur with you that we have the personnel that will be able to fill these positions.”

Harzler says being close to the agencies’ stakeholders is really important, “Our farmers and ranchers support it. I represent the University of Missouri and we are co-hosting a jobs fair there with you in November.”

Hutchins says the ERS/NIFA employees who have moved are happy with the region because of lower housing prices and less commute times. Hutchins says the 300-million-dollars in cost savings from the move will be reinvested into the agencies. And he says one-third of ERS employees will remain in Washington.

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