ANSWERING QUESTIONS

BRIGHT SUNLIGHT experienced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue – on an upper balcony attached to the building at 301 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, where the USDA leases space to house offices – causes him to squint. Later, back in the building, he answers questions from reporters, some of which annoy him.

KANSAS CITY – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue answered – not to everyone’s satisfaction – media questions about moving the USDA headquarters for Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington to Kansas City.

The opening question focused on what effect the supposed “loss of institutional memory” might have on ERS and NIFA as a result of many employees choosing not to relocate to Kansas City.

“While there is probably some loss of institutional memory, it’s not a job you do (at ERS) on a repetitive basis,” Perdue said.

Regarding NIFA, employees can do the same job in K.C. as in D.C., he said.

“I’m not at all concerned about the loss of institutional memory,” Perdue said. “We believe the people that came (to K.C.) will help to train those new people very quickly and we’ll continue with no mission loss whatsoever.”

The move from Washington, D.C., will bring an estimated 253 agriculture jobs paying an average of $120,000 at ERS and 323 agriculture jobs paying an average of $116,000 at NIFA to the Kansas City area. More than 300 ERS and NIFA employees reportedly chose not to relocate from Washington to Kansas City.

KMBC asked how long getting up to full staff might take.

“We’re hoping as soon as possible. I’m a sooner-rather-than-later kind of guy,” Perdue said, later adding, “I would say, really, by the first quarter of 2020, we will be staffed.”

A job fair to fill 107 USDA positions in Kansas City a week earlier drew more than 6,000 applications, Perdue said.

DID PERDUE ANSWER ALL OF THE QUESTIONS? FIND OUT IN FRIDAY'S RICHMOND DAILY NEWS

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