An organization representing agricultural economists says a relocation effort by the Department of Agriculture will cost taxpayers. The Agricultural and Applied Economics Association claims the plan by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue would cost taxpayers $83 to $182 million dollars, instead of saving them $300 million as USDA claims.
Secretary Perdue is planning to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture away from Washington, D.C. and to the Kansas City area. Three AAEA member economists reviewed USDA’s cost-benefit analysis. The review found that USDA overstated the cost of keeping the agencies in Washington D.C., and that USDA had failed to take account of the value of research and data lost through resignations and retirements.
Additionally, the organization says a rushed, unplanned move will “undermine the quality of USDA agricultural economic information at a critical time for the nation’s agricultural and rural economy.” Given the economy, AAEA president David Zilberman says, “This is the worst possible time” for such a much by USDA.