The White House didn’t like my agency’s research. So it sent us to Missouri.

Washington Post: Andrew Crane-Droesch

The administration claimed the move would cut costs. Now, two-thirds of our desks sit empty.

I joined the Economic Research Service (ERS) in 2016. I wanted to use my academic training to do something in the public interest — I didn’t really expect to get involved in agriculture. Then I got absorbed in the subject: Humanity’s dependence on the environment is made explicit through our food systems; without the right combination of weather, soil and labor, nobody eats.

Most people don’t need to think frequently, or ever, about the economics of honeybee pollination routes or the cost of the Federal Crop Insurance Program. But if they eat almonds (which are pollinated by bees) or pay taxes (which subsidize farm insurance), they need experts to make sure that food systems work efficiently and public funds are spent effectively. At ERS, we studied all aspects of food production, occupying an obscure but important niche: Many of our research topics wouldn’t make for an exciting academic tenure file, but had huge implications for policy.

Out of the blue, in August 2018, agriculture secretary George “Sonny” Perdue announced that my agency and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would relocate from Washington, D.C., to some yet-to-be-determined location. He claimed that this would lower costs and bring us closer to “stakeholders.” That stated justification was a fig leaf for the administration’s true intentions. We didn’t need to sit next to a corn field to analyze agricultural policy, and Perdue knew that. He wanted researchers to quit their jobs. Read the rest of the article here >



  1. ARS and ERS provide vital accurate information to the farming community at large and to our legislators who then hopefully can make reasoned policy-making decisions. This move has resulted in the loss of world-renowned experts in their fields and is going to set back research and funding of ag-related projects that can make a difference on the ground in the “real world”. No doubt there will be staffing -up but it will take a long time to get up to speed. And by the way if the Ag Secretary wanted to go the heart of ag country he really should have looked at Wisconsin, Iowa, NY, Ohio, Minnesota. It was a good day for Mo. and a bad day for agriculture on the whole when that decision was made.

  2. Kudos to Trump/Perry–draining the swamp isn’t easy after 75 years of corrupt culture and taxpayer waste. It is about time to shake up the entrenched folks and get them out of DC and make them work in the real world. The more empty million dollar desks–the better for America.

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