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Agriculture department delays reports as employees accused of pouting

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in the nation’s capital have a problem with moving to the nation’s bread basket – Kansas City.

When the Trump administration announced the move as an effort to decentralize government and move agencies closer to the people they serve, 80% of those slated to move quit or are taking early retirement. The result is that several key reports will run late as disaffected employees leave before they are completed or slow their work.

Washington, D.C.-based media website The Hill says the USDA’s Economic Research Service will delay or not release reports on things about oil production, agriculture commodities and food pricing. Other reports impacted include ones about the way food stamps affect rural economies, the drivers of the opioid crisis and health insurance coverage in farming households.

The article says the agency’s entire publishing team has up and left, creating a major roadblock to issue the reports.

Several government agencies, farm groups and economists use the reports. Many in the agriculture industry say the delayed or canceled reports are just an example of spiteful retribution for being asked to relocate and that employees are pouting. For political analysts and organizations focused on good government, it is just one of the reasons the department needs to get out of the Washington “beltway.”

The department’s relocation of two research sites, Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, is expected to create about 800 jobs for the Kansas City area.

Polls find that farmers overwhelmingly agree with the decision to relocate the agency.