ERS/NIFA Group Letter

The Honorable Richard Shelby
United States Senate
Chair, Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Patrick Leahy
United States Senate
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable John Hoeven
United States Senate
Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Jeff Merkley
United States Senate
Ranking Member, Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies
Washington, DC 20510

June 26, 2019

Dear Chairmen Shelby and Hoeven and Ranking Members Leahy and Merkley:

We, the undersigned stakeholders, are committed to scientific integrity and to growing public funding of food and agricultural research to address pressing global, domestic, and local challenges. We are grateful for the increases you have been able to make for research over the past several years in the agricultural appropriations bill, and we urge you to keep moving forward to revitalize the research budget. We are very concerned, however, that this progress, and indeed the integrity of USDA science, is being undermined by recent administrative decisions.

In light of our commitments to scientific integrity and to enhancing agricultural research funding, commitments we share with you, we urge you to immediately take all steps necessary to support agricultural research by rejecting funding cuts and rejecting the expenditure of funds to relocate the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Service (ERS) outside the hub of science and statistical agencies located in the National Capital Region (NCR).

As stakeholders, we know firsthand the importance of scientific research, education, extension, economics, and statistics to our nation’s trillion dollar plus agricultural economy. The investments made through USDA’s Research, Education and Economics (REE) mission area are essential for American trade, agricultural production, human health and nutrition, innovation, and to complement our nation’s broader basic research and statistical investments. As partners who leverage public dollars to achieve solutions to local and global agricultural problems, we do not support severing beneficial ties across science and statistical institutions. We also believe that relocating these agencies with no clear multi-stakeholder engagement plan will have severe short- and long-term effects on investment efficiency and result in unnecessary transaction costs that will undermine the agencies’ viability into the future.

Relocating NIFA and ERS will have a significant negative impact on the future role and strength of America’s vaunted agricultural research and extension enterprise. The action jeopardizes the efficacy of state, local, private, and non-governmental sector funding for agricultural research and extension, creating a potential economic loss of more than $26 billion,i,ii and impacting tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in every district of every state. Keeping NIFA in NCR is essential for its interactions with the other major research agencies in Washington. Moving it away sends a clear message that agricultural research is not as important as research funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, the National Institutes of Health, and numerous other major research agencies. Simply put, these actions would needlessly unravel a strong system that provides innumerous benefits to our nation’s productivity, profitability, and rural economy and human health.

We note, with alarm, that Congress was not given a cost benefit justification prior to the announcement in August 2018. Additionally, Congress has still not been given a cost benefit analysis that is informed by OMB circular guidance, a detailed budget plan, the Office of the Inspector General report, or a multi-stakeholder plan to provide input on the future of agricultural research and statistics.

We therefore respectfully request that you include bill language stating that no funding be used for relocation or reorganization of ERS and NIFA in FY20. We further urge you to withhold approval of any and all reprogramming requests. We believe a robust congressional response is necessary to uphold the future efficacy of public agricultural research investments.


Aaniiih Nakoda College

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Acadia Foods

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Agriculture and Land Based Training Association Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network Alamosa Farmers’ Market

American Association for Public Opinion Research American Association for the Advancement of Science American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences American Dairy Science Association

American Federation of Government Employees

American Heart Association

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

American Indian Mothers Inc.

American Institute of Biological Sciences American Malting Barley Association American Public Health Association

American Samoa Community College, Agriculture, Community & Natural Resources Division

American Society for Horticultural Science

American Statistical Association

Antibiotic Resistance Action Center, GW Milken Institute School of Public Health

Appetite for Change

Arkansas Land and Community Development Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Association of Population Centers

Association of State Public Health Nutritionists

California Institute for Rural Studies

California Polytechnic State University, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental


Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

CASA del Llano, Inc.

Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship

Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention

Center for Rural Affairs

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Certified Naturally Grown Child Care Aware of America Clif Bar & Company

Coalition on Human Needs

Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger Colorado Springs Food Rescue Community Farm Alliance

Consortium of Social Science Associations Consumer Federation of America Cooperative Development Institute

Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics Dawson Resource Council

Decision Demographics Defenders of Wildlife Detroit Food Policy Council

Double Up Food Bucks Garfield County

Entomological Society of America

Fair Food Network Family Farm Defenders Farm Aid

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Farm to Institution New England Farm Women United

Farmworker Association of Florida Federation of Animal Science Societies First Focus Campaign for Children Food & Water Watch

Food Animal Concerns Trust Food Policy Action FoodCorps

Friends of the Earth Friends of the Earth Good Food for All

Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance

Hempstead Project Heart

Holy Moly Farm Hunt or Gather Ilisagvik College

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Jefferson County Food Policy Council Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future Kansas Black Farmers Association, INC

La Semilla Food Center

Land for Good

Little Big Horn College LiveWell Colorado Maine Farmland Trust

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute Michigan Food and Farming Systems Michigan State University, AgBioResearch

Michigan State University, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

Missouri Coalition for the Environment

Montana Organic Association

Montana State University

National Association of University Fisheries and Wildlife Programs

National Barley Improvement Committee

National Family Farm Coalition National Farm to School Network National Farmers Union

National Hmong American Farmers, Inc.

National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association

National Latinos Farmers and Ranchers

National Organic Coalition

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

National WIC Association

National Young Farmers Coalition Natural Resources Defense Council Nebraska Indian Community College

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee North American Regional Science Council

North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers Land Loss Prevention Project

Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts (NOFA-MA) Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) Northeast Organic Farming Association-Interstate Council

Northwest Forest Worker Center

Northwest Indian College

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Oregon State University, Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems

Oregon State University, College of Agricultural Sciences

Oregon Tilth

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Organic Seed Alliance PCC Community Markets Peace Roots Alliance

Penn State University, College of Agricultural Sciences

Pesticide Action Network Pinnacle Prevention Poetry X Hunger

Population Association of America

Renewing the Countryside

Restoration Urban Farm of New England

Rhode Island Food Policy Council Rhode Island Healthy Schools Coalition Roots of Change

Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA Rural Coalition

Rural Sociological Society

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College

San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior South Carolina State University

South Dakota State University Southeast Michigan Census Council Southern Regional Science Association Southwest Institute for Resilience Strategic Consulting Services Sustainable Food Center


The American Phytopathological Society

The Food Trust

The Ohio State University, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Union of Concerned Scientists

United States Breastfeeding Committee

University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources

University of California, Berkeley University of California, Davis University of California, Merced University of California, Riverside University of California, Santa Cruz

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs – Sustainability, Wellness and Learning Program

University of Maryland

University of Rhode Island, College of the Environment and Life Sciences

University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture

University of Vermont, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

US Dairy Forage Research Center Stakeholder Advisory Committee

Utahns Against Hunger

Virginia Association for Biological Farming Washington State Department of Health Washington State University

World Perspectives, Inc.

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Download a copy of the ERS/NIFA letter