Employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture now have a permanent office location to work out of in Kansas City, Missouri.

USDA announced Oct. 31 that it had signed a lease for permanent office space at 805 Pennsylvania Avenue, which will house both research agencies. The new office is located in the Quality Hill area of Kansas City, which is less than a mile from the Missouri-Kansas border and is known as a historic district of the city.

“We’re excited to announce ERS and NIFA’s new, permanent home in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, and provide clarity on commute times and work-life balance for our employees,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“Both agencies have been hard at work in the Beacon Center after relocating to the region over a month ago, and signing this lease is an important next step to facilitate their long-term efficiency, effectiveness, and service to our customers. The region is not only a hub for agriculture in America’s heartland, but is also already proving to be a diverse talent pool in proximity to many land-grant and research universities. I’m confident Kansas City will continue to be a great home for the future of ERS and NIFA.”

Employees of the two agencies and some lawmakers, however, have given the move a lukewarm reception, with many arguing that the mission of ERS and NIFA does not require employees to be in close contact with agricultural customers and instead necessitates that they interface with Congress and other agency leaders on a regular basis.

A majority of employees notified the agency in July that they would plan to leave their positions at the agency rather than move to Kansas City. Those that have chosen to stay were also given the option to telework through the end of December, with the potential for extensions, creating the possibility that employees will choose to remain at the agency only as long as it takes to find another U.S. government or D.C.-based job.

Employees already in Missouri have been working out of other Department of Agriculture offices and will continue to do so until the new office space is ready for move-in, according to the USDA news release.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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