Praise is justified for USDA’s plan to create new scientific facilities for the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the greater Kansas City area.
The new facilities will open with 550 jobs having wages that average between $80,000 and $100,000.
Not all of those jobs will be new. The facilities will be new to this metro area, but not to the USDA. The facilities will move to this area from Washington, D.C. This means the D.C. employees will have to move to K.C. if they wish to keep their jobs and presumably many will.
Why did USDA Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue decide to move the two agencies from D.C., a Democratic stronghold, to this area, which voted for President Trump in 2016? The question itself might provide an answer, but Perdue had a better one.
“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 stated.
Arguing with that answer would be difficult for anyone who has seen how the Kansas City metro area has long been the heart of Heartland agriculture, from the days of cattle drives in the 1800s to this day, when the area is home to the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor and is the location for the in-progress National Bio And Agro-Defense Facility. Bringing the facilities to Kansas City, where so much work in agriculture takes place, makes sense.
The farmers are here; 13 land-grant universities are either here or within 300 miles of here and instead of people educated here having to go elsewhere to work, they can stay here with their families, where they should have been all along; and there are major players in the agriculture industry here.
USDA has not determined on which side of the Kansas City metro area border, Kansas or Missouri, the new facilities will be located. Kansas would prefer to have the facilities there and Missouri would prefer to have the facilities here, but the congressional delegations are in agreement that anywhere in the metro area is a win.
Unfortunately, though the move now seems likely, the move is not certain. Politicians in the D.C. area, and facility employees who do not want to move, are talking about fighting the move. In the end, they are not likely to win. Perdue appears to have the power to make the move happen.
In the meantime, and hopefully that will be short, USDA is going to need to find office space for new workers. With that in mind, land in this area is not expensive, traffic is light and downtown access easy.