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State legislators welcome USDA to Kansas City

June 17, 2019

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced two federal agriculture research agencies would be moving their headquarters to the Kansas City region: the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Together, they will bring more than 500 jobs to the area.

This is fantastic news for our state, our region and also for the workers and their families. The point of the move is to get these important government offices closer to the customers they serve and to save taxpayers money. Kansas City is a great place for both.

Missouri is already home to more than 5,000 USDA employees and contractors working for a dozen of the department’s offices. Bringing these two agency headquarters to the area will put them right in the middle of some of the most exciting and cutting edge innovation happening in the ag industry.

Kansas City is close to at least a dozen land-grant universities, including the University of Missouri and Lincoln University. These institutions are preparing the next generation of ag leaders, many of whom are already out in the community working with farm families every day. This move will give the USDA the opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and have an even greater impact on everything from improving crop yields to developing risk management strategies.

Our state is also a big part of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, which extends from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri. The corridor is home to more than 300 animal health companies, the largest concentration in the world. That includes five of the world’s largest animal health companies.

Relocating these agencies will save taxpayers a lot of money, about $300 million over the next 15 years. That frees up more resources that can go toward agriculture grants and research instead of to the department’s landlords.

It will also be a huge upgrade in the quality of life for the people who relocate from Washington, D.C. to our communities. Our cost of living is a fraction of what it is in the D.C. area. Last month, the average house sold in Washington cost more than $600,000. In Kansas City, the average price is less than a quarter of that. Local banks and mortgage companies are standing by to help families find a great home.

Spouses will find employers looking to fill good-paying jobs. According to the Labor Department, Kansas City added 8,200 jobs from November 2017 to November 2018.

Our new neighbors will also find that Kansas City is home to almost limitless cultural, educational and recreational opportunities. We’ve got major league sports teams like the Royals, Chiefs and Sporting Kansas City. We have a thriving theater culture, the world-class Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Science City at Union Station, just to name a few.

The motto of the USDA is, “Do right and feed everyone.” Kansas City is a hub for agriculture in this country in terms of research as well as production.

There is more opportunity ahead in the ag industry than we have seen in decades and our state is ideally situated — geographically and economically — to take advantage of that opportunity. We are committed to working together, and with Secretary Perdue and USDA employees, to make this move a success.

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