Dear Secretary Perdue,
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) writes to inquire about USDA’s plans to reorganize the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). Recently, at the NASDA Annual Meeting, NASDA members voted overwhelmingly in support of strong funding and support for NIFA and ERS. NASDA urges USDA to work with the stakeholder community regarding the proposed relocation and ensure that both ERS and NIFA have resources necessary to fulfil their missions.1
NASDA represents the Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of the state departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. State departments of agriculture are responsible for a wide range of programs including food safety, conservation, and fostering the economic vitality of our rural communities.
Given the importance of scientific research and education to our nation’s well-being, NASDA strongly urges USDA to hit the pause button and invite public comment from stakeholders regarding the move. Further, NASDA supports:
- Enhancing federal funding as necessary to strengthen and support the research, education and extension work of both agencies,
- Receiving more information from USDA and an organizational analysis and data that explains the proposal,
- USDA working with states and stakeholders throughout the proposed realignment process
NASDA members encourage USDA to release more information about the proposed relocation, analysis of how NIFA and ERS will continue to work with stakeholders in the Washington, D.C. area and across the country, and explanations of how USDA will ensure that the agencies continue to operate efficiently. Specifically, NASDA requests that USDA open a 30-day comment period on the proposed relocation. We believe a comment period will help raise concerns and also open a dialogue that will help any relocation plans mutually benefit the stakeholder community and the agency.
NASDA appreciates USDA extending the comment period for the Expressions of Interest for Potential Sites for Headquarters Office Locations for ERS and NIFA.
We ask that the agency continue to create venues for stakeholder engagement around the relocation. NASDA is eager to work with USDA and all stakeholders in moving forward and ensuring that NIFA and ERS can carry out their missions and serve the agricultural community.
Thank you for your consideration.
Barbara P. Glenn, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer