KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- An announcement that caused celebration in Kansas City is sparking protest in Washington D.C.
The Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it would move two major research divisions to the metro.
Federal researchers are now saying they feel relocation is a bad move.
USDA employees said it isn’t about not wanting to move to Kansas City. They said they don’t want to move at all.
Some are worried about uprooting their personal lives without warning. Others worry government information might get lost in the move.
About two million people call the Kansas City area home. Many thought more than 500 D.C. researchers soon would as well.
However, on Thursday, USDA employees turned their back on Secretary Perdue in a protest against the change.
USDA economist Laura Dodson also said the frustration isn’t with the location.
“This is not about Kansas City or the Midwest or anything about that,” said Dodson, an Economic Research Service Economist. “It’s about the decision to move us out of D.C. is the wrong decision. It doesn’t matter where we’re sent. We need to be in D.C.”
Dodson said employees only have 90 days to decide if they’re willing to relocate. She is frustrated with the decision, because it is unclear if she would be asked to move.
“ERS is a knowledge-based organization,” she said. “Our value is in our people and our institutional knowledge. The researchers working here are at the top of their field.”
“If one of them leaves,” she said. “We lose that expertise.”
Kansas City officials are trying to prevent experts from quitting the USDA. They want to encourage current employees to give Kansas City a chance.
Kimberly Young, a director with the KC Animal Health Corridor, said a team of ambassadors is going to D.C. to meet with relocating employees.
“There’s so much that goes into meeting the needs of families that we need to bring that to D.C. so they understand everything Kansas City has to offer and, hopefully, that will help make the transition a little bit easier,” she said.
If employees turn down the relocation package, Young said the USDA will look locally to fill the positions.
“Part of the strength of Kansas City is that we are here in the agriculture hub,” she said. “Within 300 miles, there’s 13 land-grant universities. These universities are the stakeholders for NIFA, but they also produce a lot of talent in the skilled individuals that these agencies need.”
NIFA is the National Institute on Food and Agriculture.
The wheels are already in motion to bring the facilities to the Midwest, regardless of whether the people come with them.
Another economic researcher who talked to KCTV5 News said the move feels like it’s happening at a “breakneck pace.”
The facilities are set to open this fall.