Two cities in Iowa have submitted proposals to the U.S.D.A. as the agency considers new locations for the headquarters of the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
According to Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the proposals are from Council Bluffs and Ames. Ames is the home of Iowa State University, a so-called “land grant” institution founded with an agricultural mission.
“That, of course, elevated from Ames and the Research Park, because that’s obviously a really strong connection with the land-grant that the application talked about,” Durham says.
Durham says Council Bluffs has strong selling points, too.
“That Omaha/Council Bluffs region from a population base and from a transportation grid response,” Durham says.
The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce has submitted a bid as well, for moving the USDA facilities to the Rock Island Arsenal.
The USDA’s plan to relocate the two agencies has drawn fire from lawmakers and former agency leaders, but U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has said the relocation will improve customer service and save taxpayer dollars. The U.S.D.A.’s Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture are currently located in Washington, D.C. and employ more than 600 people. About 15 percent of federal employees — including all the top decision-makers — are based in Washington, D.C. The rest of the federal workforce is spread across the country.
The U.S.D.A.’s National Animal Disease Laboratory already is located in Ames. The U.S.D.A. has Farm Service Agency offices around the state as well.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)