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Brain Drain Coming for Economic Research Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture economists say Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s plan to move the Economic Research Service from Washington to Kansas City won’t be a positive for the agency, causing a “brain drain” of veteran scientists. An Agri-Pulse report says nearly 70 percent of the employees at the ERS who’ve been ordered to make the move to Kansas City will leave the agency instead. A survey from American Federal Government Employees says even more than that are considering quitting.

Now that the first group of agency employees is set to be relocated by August 1, that number will likely accelerate. USDA gave the workers tapped for relocation until July 15 to make a decision, just one month after Perdue announced the final site selection.

Not a single employee in the Information Services Division said they were likely to move. About 90 percent of the employees that study topics like food assistance, climate change, and the rural economy are thinking of quitting.

The secretary says the move will save money and improve customer service by bringing the agency closer to farming regions. However, some ERS economists say they see it as retaliation for their reports that cast an unflattering light on Trump administration policies.

North Carolina’s Research Triangle region and Indianapolis were the other two finalists for the relocation site.