November 25, 2019

USDA signs lease for new ERS and NIFA offices

USDA signs lease for new ERS and NIFA offices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has signed a $25.6 million lease for new office space at the Beacon Center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The Federal News Network reports that the lease covers about 120,000 square feet of office space and will run for 17 years.

This new office space will be used by employees of the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) relocated from the DC area in September.

“Both agencies have been hard at work in the Beacon Center after relocating to the region over a month ago, and signing this lease is an important next step to facilitate their long-term efficiency, effectiveness, and service to our customers. The region is not only a hub for agriculture in America’s heartland, but is also already proving to be a diverse talent pool in proximity to many land-grant and research universities. I’m confident Kansas City will continue to be a great home for the future of ERS and NIFA,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a Oct. 31 press release.

Perdue visited the Beacon Center offices on Nov. 15, tweeting, “I often brag to my Cabinet colleagues that @USDA has the best workforce in the federal government and these folks are a big part of that.”

While at the new offices, Perdue added context to the move, saying, “There’s a certain culture here, and that influences your on-the-ground ability there, rather than sitting somewhere that doesn’t have any agriculture,” he said. “You’re going to find more people in this region that know about agriculture, have the challenges and stress of the year-in and year-out agriculture and be able to make decisions and policies that help inform better research and policy from the USDA.”

Perdue’s comments drew criticism from the leader of the ERS union, who pointed out that ERS does national level research and it is not helpful for the economists to focus on one region.

The ERS and NIFA headquarters will remain in the DC area. According to the USDA, “Out of 329 total ERS positions, 76 positions remain in D.C. while 253 positions are in Kansas City. Out of 344 total NIFA positions, 21 positions remain in D.C. while 323 are in Kansas City.” Employees relocated to Kansas City will work from the leased office space until building of permanent office space is complete.