Baton Rouge in the running for USDA agency relocations

    Baton Rouge has made the “middle list” of cities in the running to become the new homes of two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies, which are being relocated out of Washington D.C.

    The Capital City was one of 136 bidders in 35 states that submitted Expressions of Interest for the relocation of the two USDA offices—the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture—which was announced in August.

    The USDA has since culled the list to 67 potential sites, including Baton Rouge, in 28 states, according to a USDA news release issued today.

    Baton Rouge’s application was submitted through the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, in partnership with Louisiana Economic Development, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry, LSU and Southern University.

    Reached for comment, BRAC said it is “unable to comment on projects.” Other state agencies and the USDA did not return requests for comment.

    The ERS and NIFA relocations, which are part of a broader USDA reorganization, will involve relocating most of the federal workers at those agencies to the new locations.

    The USDA used a set of guiding principles to select its “middle list” of potential new sites, including USDA travel requirements, labor force statistics and work hours compatible with all USDA office schedules, according to the press release.

    “The announcement of this middle list shows that we are committed to the important missions of these agencies and transparency in our selection process,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says in a statement. “USDA will make the best choice for our employees and customers.”

    The offices are relocating outside the nation’s capital to ensure “USDA is the most effective, most efficient, and most customer-focused agency in the federal government,” Perdue says, as it allows the department to be closer to stakeholders and to move resources closer to customers.

    The USDA, which initially expected to select a location in early 2019, does not indicate in today’s press release a date by which it will select the new agency sites.  

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