Updated July 17:
In a recent interview with The Kansas City Star, a USDA spokesperson said that 250 of the 550 USDA employees selected to move will choose to leave the agency instead. The spokesperson mentioned that this number may fluctuate, as employees have until Sept. 30, when they’re due to report in Kansas City, to change their minds. Only 145 employees accepted the transfer according to the spokesperson, about 26% of all selected USDA employees.
A survey conducted by the American Federation of Government Employees shows that most employees affected by the USDA move will likely leave their position rather than relocate. According to Politico, with whom AFGE exclusively shared the survey results, up to 80% of employees at several Economic Research Service (ERS) departments do not plan to relocate, despite being selected to work in Kansas City.
The AFGE represents employees at the EFS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), both of which will be relocated to Kansas City in the planned move, though only ERS employees have been surveyed. The ERS analyzes both agricultural markets and global commodity production, consumption and trade and provides vital information to American farmers.
Following Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement of the ERS and NIFA’s planned move to Kansas City, the AFGA surveyed employees concerning the decision to relocate. The AFGA survey data shows that of the 200 or so ERS employees selected by the USDA to relocate, an estimated 2 out of 3 do not plan to move to Kansas City. Notable estimated figures on selected employees who plan not to relocate include:
- 100% of selected employees in the Information Division
- 90% of selected employees in the Resource and Rural Economics Division who study climate change, conservation and the environment
- 89% of selected employees in the Food Economics Division
- 75% of selected employees in the Market and Trade Economics Division
The USDA issued a statement to Politico in response, saying, “. . . we are doing everything we can to ensure employees have the resources and information to make their decisions and to implement the transition smoothly and efficiently to ensure mission critical work can continue.”