May 24, 2021

Washington Roundup - May 2021- By Lowell Randel

Washington Roundup – May 2021

President’s Budget to be Released on May 28th
The White House has announced that President Biden’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 will be released on May 28th.  The full budget request will build on the “Discretionary Request” provided to Congress earlier this year and provide additional details on specific agency budgets and programs.  The earlier “Discretionary Request” included $4 billion, or $647 million above the 2021 enacted level, for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs, but provided few details on how the increases would be distributed across USDA’s research agencies.  The full budget request will detail the Administration’s proposed funding levels for key programs such as the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), capacity programs and the Agricultural Research Service. 

Secretary Vilsack Signals no Change for ERS and NIFA Relocations
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently made comments at an agricultural journalism conference regarding the status of relocations of the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  Vilsack indicated that the Department does not plan to reverse the move of the two agencies to Kansas City.  However, while the Biden Administration is not expected to move the agencies back to Washington, DC, there are indications that future hires for the agencies will not be limited to Kansas City.  Vilsack was quoted as saying, “I think you’ll see over time some of those positions that are currently not filled today will be filled in Kansas City, and some of those positions that aren’t filled today will be filled in the Washington, D.C., area.  I think it will be a mix. … They’re important positions, the research is important, the data collection is important.”  The recent experience with remote working during the pandemic has demonstrated the effectiveness of telecommuting and remote work, which may open the ability to recruit agency staff in the Washington, DC area, even with the headquarters officials in Kansas City.

Senate Confirms Jewel Bronaugh to be Deputy Secretary for U.S. Department of Agriculture
On May 13th, Jewel Bronaugh was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary Agriculture by voice vote.  As Deputy Secretary she will oversee day-to-day operations of one of the largest federal departments, with more than 84,000 employees and a budget of $150 billion a year.  Prior to her confirmation, Dr. Bronaugh served as Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She previously served as the Virginia State Executive Director for the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). Dr. Bronaugh also has land-grant university experience.  Prior to her FSA appointment, she served as Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University (VSU) with oversight of Extension, Research and Academic Programs.