WASHINGTON –This week, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced his intent to relocate two USDA research agencies outside of Washington, D.C.

“I’m glad to see USDA is considering moving two of its agencies outside of ‘swampy’ Washington. For too long, our federal agencies have been out-of-touch and unaware of the impact that their policies have on folks in states like Iowa, and across the country. While this proposal doesn’t go as far as my SWAMP Act, relocating these agriculture agencies outside the Beltway is a good step in the right direction and an example that I hope other federal agencies will follow,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition.

Background:

USDA is considering moving the Economic Research Service (ESR) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) outside of Washington, D.C. in an effort to bring the agency closer to stakeholders. Secretary Perdue stated that this move is a “very business-like approach,” and that USDA will be using an outside consulting firm to help select new locations.

Senator Ernst has championed an effort to decentralize the federal government.  Her Strategic Withdrawal of Agencies for Meaningful Placement (SWAMP) Act would move the headquarters of federal agencies outside of the immediate Washington, D.C. area, and establish a competitive bidding process that allows states, cities and towns across the country to compete to be an agency’s new home.

Senator Joni Ernst’s SWAMP ACT:

  • Repeals the section of the U.S. Code that requires federal agencies and departments to be located in Washington, D.C.
  • Prohibits agencies currently headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area from entering into new lease agreements, making significant renovations to their existing locations or beginning construction on new facilities in the area.
  • Exempts the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Defense and all other national security-related agencies that must be in close proximity to Congress and the White House.
  • Establishes a competitive bidding process to allow states and municipalities to compete for the relocated headquarters.