Missouri Congressman Graves optimistic about USDA moving to Kansas City region

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MISSOURINET.— The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it’s selected the greater Kansas City area for the relocation of two major facilities: its Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agricultural Policy.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, says the decision will draw more than 550 jobs to the Kansas City region, with average wages between $80,000 and $100,000.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, who represents 36 northern Missouri counties, says it makes sense to move the USDA agencies from Washington to what he describes as “the heart of farm country.”

“This is going to take those agencies right out to the very places that they’re doing research for and trying to help and the industry they’re trying to help,” Graves says.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) says the Kansas City area is closer to USDA’s farmer-constituent base. Congressman Graves, who farms in northwest Missouri, agrees. He says the move gets USDA closer to the people they serve.

“And what’s more, it gets them closer to FAPRI, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute there at the University of Missouri which does a lot of the work, the research work for these two agencies,” says Graves.

FAPRI was started in 1984. Its website notes it provides objective analysis of markets and policies. One of its primary purposes is to provide decision makers with information about how policy changes or market conditions impact the agricultural sector.

While there will be efforts to block it, Graves is optimistic about USDA’s proposal to relocate to the Kansas City region. He says it underscores the quality of life in the greater Kansas City area.

“We’ve got good schools and we got good communities and safe communities and that’s what is important when it comes to attracting folks to take these positions,” Graves says.

Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst agrees, saying Kansas City “is the heart of our farm economy” and is the right choice for USDA.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, is blasting the move, calling it the “wrong decision.” Leader Hoyer has issued a statement, saying he’ll continue to explore all options to reverse USDA’s decision.

Cleaver expects a fight from the Maryland and Virginia congressional delegations.

Congressman Graves says the move will save tax dollars. The “Kansas City Star” reports Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the relocation will save USDA about $300 million over 15 years.

Graves tells Missourinet the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will conduct a search for a site, emphasizing that nothing has been decided yet on the site.

Graves also emphasizes that it’s been a bipartisan effort in Missouri to land the jobs, crediting both Congressman Cleaver and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville.

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