Members of the American Federation of Government Employees staged a protest over the announcement of relocation plans of two Agriculture Department research agencies.

The employees turned their backs on Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue during his review of the relocation plans.

Perdue announced Thursday that two of the Department of Agriculture’s research agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will be relocated to be closer to major farming regions, according to Politico.

While Perdue has justified the relocation as a way to improve customer service and save taxpayers up to $20 million per year, some ERS employees have said it is a political move, according to the publication.

Specifically, some ERS staff have expressed suspicions the relocation is an attempt to shrink the agency and weaken its ability to conduct research that does not align with the Trump administration’s policy agenda.

In other words, the swamp creatures are unhappy that the administration has taken a step to drain the swamp.

On the other hand, representatives in both Kansas and Missouri are pleased with the developments.

A two-state proposal from Kansas and Missouri beat out 135 other bids to become new headquarters for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), two of the USDA’s principal research agencies.

It’s a major win for policymakers in both states, who worked closely on a collaborative bid, and a sign that the long-term border tensions on economic development may be easing.

“It was a united effort, so that really helped,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the Senate Agriculture chairman, said earlier in the week before the USDA officially selected Kansas City over other finalists, locations in North Carolina and Indiana.

“I am committed to ensuring we continue to support and strengthen the research mission that our US producers rely on. Kansas City is an obvious choice, as many other USDA agencies in the area partner closely with stakeholders,” Roberts said in a statement Thursday.

During his announcement, Perdue stressed that the relocation was a strategic, long-term decision for the USDA.

He touted Kansas City as a booming city with a strong agriculture sector and close proximity to land grant universities that work closely with [National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)], but he acknowledged the move would be difficult for some employees.

“I understand the decision creates personal disruption for some of you as well as your families,” he said.

The USDA will be pairing employees with relocation specialists to help the employees who choose to remain with the agency to navigate the move.

In a phone call with reporters, Perdue downplayed the backlash from employees and said current employees who don’t want to move to Kansas City employees will have opportunities to find other jobs in the federal government.

Many American taxpayers are applauding the move, and indicate the employees’ behavior was shameful.

 
 
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