A congressman who represents 36 northern Missouri counties is praising USDA’s selection of Kansas City as the site for two major USDA facilities.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, farms in northwest Missouri’s Atchison County in October 2019 (photo courtesy of Congressman Graves’ office)

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, a sixth-generation family farmer, says 90 percent of USDA employees are already outside of Washington. Graves’ sprawling district includes the northern Kansas City suburbs.

“The closer we can get USDA’s core or headquarter staff to agriculture, the better,” Graves says.

USDA will relocate its Economic Research Service (ERS) and its National Institute of Food and Agriculture Policy (NIFA) agencies to Pennsylvania Avenue in Kansas City.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will travel to the location on Friday morning to hold an event with Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Senator Roy Blunt, state Department of Agriculture (MDA) Director Chris Chinn, state Department of Economic Development Director Rob Dixon and others.

Congressman Graves praises the relocation plan, saying it will decentralize USDA.

“When you put too many bureaucrats for an agency inside the Beltway, inside Washington D.C. where they’re not out there interacting with the very people that they are supposed to be serving, then you get into some serious problems,” says Graves.

He says USDA’s decision puts the agencies closer to constituencies.

Graves also predicts the decision will have a “ripple effect” two to three counties deep. He says the average wages for the approximately 550 positions are between $80,000 and $100,000.

“Buying homes, renting apartments, buying gas, buying groceries, buying new televisions, whatever the case may be,” Graves says.

He also emphasizes that the issue has been bipartisan, noting that he’s been working closely with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) has also praised the plan and the bipartisan regional efforts to land the jobs. Mayor Lucas notes Kansas City is an essential part of the animal health corridor.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, which was recorded on November 1, 2019:

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