House Democrats Introduce Bill To Stop Research Agency Reorganization and Relocation
Washington, DC, December 20, 2018
Tags: Food and Agriculture
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced HR 7330, the “Agriculture Research Integrity Act” today to block the reorganization and relocation of federal agriculture research agencies. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), James P. McGovern(D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has proposed moving the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Service (ERS) out of the Washington, D.C., area, in addition to shifting authority of ERS from the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics to the Office of the Secretary.
HR 7330, The Agriculture Research Integrity Act (ARIA), would both require the USDA to keep the agencies within the capital area and keep ERS within the purview of the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics so it can remain free of politicization. Bill text available here.
“The National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service are already doing great work to support American farmers and consumers right where they are. Uprooting these key agencies is absolutely unnecessary and risks weakening them when our nation’s food system and agricultural economy need them most,” Congresswoman Pingree said. “My colleagues and I have repeatedly sent this message to the Secretary. Since he’s forging ahead regardless of our feedback—or the concerns of the nation’s agriculture research scientists—this bill is a necessary step.”
All Democratic members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture have signed onto the bill—Reps. Bishop, DeLauro, Pingree, and Pocan—as well as House Agriculture Committee members Reps. Fudge, Kuster, McGovern, and Panetta. Reps. Hoyer and Norton represent constituents in the capital area.
“The proposal to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture is yet another attack on science by the Trump Administration,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “For years, both agencies have been invaluable resources on research and support for the food and agricultural community. This shocking proposed move—including the sham application process for the relocation of ERS and NIFA—threatens to politicize these agencies and undermines their ability to carry out their important missions. Congress must step up and pass this bill to prevent the Trump Administration from evading Congressional oversight authority.”
“The Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture generate vital information that assists farmers across America,” said Congressman McGovern (D-MA). “It’s deeply concerning to me that the Department of Agriculture’s proposed restructuring and relocation of these agencies could have a dramatic impact on their effectiveness—and appears to overstep the authority granted to the USDA by Congress.”
“In the face of rising economic and environmental challenges the nation must be able to rely on sound, objective agricultural research to address these concerns,” said Congresswoman Fudge. “Keeping both agencies in place and the Economic Research Service free from political influence will ensure just that.”
“The proposed relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is unnecessary and could disrupt the critical research and program development that is currently taking place,” said Rep. Kuster. “This attempt to downsize the important role of NIFA and the Economic Research Service will hamstring our nation’s ability to conduct cutting-edge research at a time when American agriculture must accelerate productivity.”
“The Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture provide producers, policymakers, and academic institutions valuable data and programmatic support,” said Congressman Panetta. “Plans to dislocate them from key federal partners is a disservice to those requiring timely, impartial information. The Administration should strengthen budgets and address staffing shortages within these agencies, not force disruptive relocations and reorganizations.”
“Relocating the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would be extremely disruptive to the mission of the USDA and impact hundreds of federal employees,” said Congressman Hoyer. “I join in thanking Congresswoman Pingree for introducing this important legislation.”
“The Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize and relocate two USDA agencies would threaten their independence and hinder their mission to provide critical research,” said Congresswoman Norton. “The Trump administration bypassed normal procedures and ignored required considerations when announcing these moves. These agencies should stay in the National Capital Region, where they belong, so federal researchers can continue to do their jobs.”