Kansas City lands two USDA agencies, more than 500 jobs

Kansas City will become a more significant center for agriculture after federal officials have decided to relocate two agencies to the area.

The United States Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it will move the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well as the Economic Research Service to the Kansas City region. The department did not disclose plans for specific locations.

The NIFA is expected to bring 294 jobs to the area, and the ERS plans to employ 253 people in the region.

The USDA expects to save about $300 million with the move.

“Following a rigorous site selection process, the Kansas City Region provides a win win – maximizing our mission function by putting taxpayer savings into programmatic outputs and providing affordability, easy commutes, and extraordinary living for our employees,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a release. “The Kansas City Region has proven itself to be (a) hub for all things agriculture and is a booming city in America’s heartland.”

Perdue cited the Kansas City Federal Reserve, which focuses on agricultural issues, as well as the various land-grant universities as examples of the area’s focus on the industry.

The NIFA provides oversight and funding for programs to advance agricultural science. The ERS researches agriculture, food, the environment and rural America.

In August, the USDA announced it would relocate the two agencies, hoping to place resources closer to stakeholders and improve the agency’s ability to attract and retain qualified staff.

Officials laid out specific criteria for determining which city they would choose as the next location, from quality of life and cost, to workforce issues and logistics.

The USDA announced in May that Kansas City was one of three finalists for the agencies.

In deciding to relocate, the department conducted a cost-benefit analysis that demonstrated it could save money by relocating the two agencies to the Midwest. The nominal savings on employment costs and rent would be about $300 million over 15 years, according to the USDA.

“We are thrilled that Secretary Perdue chose to relocate ERS and NIFA to the heartland,” Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a release. “We appreciate all the hard work and commitment from Secretary Perdue, President Trump’s Administration, and the large Kansas City coalition in making this happen. Missouri agriculture has unrivaled diversity, access to cutting-edge research at our land grant universities, and a thriving agribusiness environment.”

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