KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- The Kansas City area will become the new home of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The USDA team is evaluating multiple Class A office properties in Kansas and Missouri for its 120,000-sq.-ft. space, which will house both agencies and 568 employees, and expects to be operational in the fall.

The Kansas City region was selected for its existing concentration of USDA employees and operations, the more than 150 federal agencies in the area, proximity to 13 land grant universities, and central location in the agricultural heart of the country. 

“Because of Kansas City’s 100+ year legacy of leadership in the agriculture and animal health industries, this decision feels like a homecoming for the USDA,” said Tim Cowden, president and CEO, Kansas City Area Development Council. “We welcome the ERS and NIFA teams and look forward to introducing them to KC’s incredible culture, robust scientific community and unprecedented access to the research, farm, agribusiness and financial customers they serve.”

Within 300 miles of Kansas City are 13 land grant universities—including agriculture research giants Kansas State University and the University of Missouri—more than any other U.S. location.

Local agriculture experts said they can already see the benefit of more agriculture jobs in the area.

“Really having access to that in a local market is important and provides the Kansas City metro area a step up from other cities around the U.S., which is great,” said Tara Markley, K-State Research and Extension Johnson County. “And, it’s going to bring more economic development in for us.”

The National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, the USDA’s state-of-the-art bio-containment laboratory for the study of diseases threatening the nation’s animal agricultural industries, is opening in Manhattan, Kansas, in 2022.

“With 56 percent of total worldwide animal health, diagnostics and pet food sales, the Kansas City region is home to more than 300 animal health companies, representing the largest concentration in the world,” said Kimberly Young, president, KC Animal Health Corridor. “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the USDA to advance cutting edge discoveries, develop the next generation of agriculture talent and ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.”

Kansas City is already home to more than a dozen USDA agency operations.

“This is a significant win for Kansas and Missouri,” Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said. “The decision today to move the USDA agencies to the Kansas City area is proof of the value of collaboration between our two states and our congressional delegation. When we all work together, we can accomplish a lot. While we’ll work hard to make sure the final location is on our side of the river, we know the new location on either side will meet the needs of the USDA and benefit Kansas and Missouri.”

Kelly also praised the USDA decision.

“We offered an ideal location for the USDA operations,” she said. “The new facilities will be strategically located close to a top agricultural research institution in Kansas State University. The quality of life we offer also was a strong consideration and selling point. The move will meet the needs of the USDA and benefit Kansas and Missouri. I thank Secretary Perdue, our team at the Kansas Department of Commerce and the Kansas City Area Development Council for its hard in work in making this possible.”

The ERS jobs pay an average of $120,000 per year, and NIFA jobs between $110,000 and $190,000.

Proposals from Indiana and North Carolina were among the other finalists seeking the USDA research agencies.

“Today’s announcement is great news for the Kansas City region and our state,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. “These agencies will bring hundreds of good-paying jobs to the area and enhance Missouri’s role as a national leader in ag research. Secretary Perdue made the right choice in selecting Kansas City, which is a great place to live and work. The challenges and opportunities have never been greater than they will be in the next 25 years. These research agencies do great work, and will be at the cutting edge of agriculture and well located for assistance and examples as they do their job.”

“This is outstanding news for the Kansas City region. We’re home to some of the hardest working farmers in the country, so this is a fantastic decision by the USDA,” U.S. Senator Josh Hawley said. “As the new home of the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Missouri and Kansas will continue to lead in the research and development of American agricultural policy for the 21st century. We are grateful for the job opportunities and renewed partnership this move creates for our state.”

“I am excited to hear USDA selected Kansas City as the new location for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Agricultural research is a critical function of USDA, and I am committed to ensuring we continue to support and strengthen the research mission that our US producers rely on. Kansas City is an obvious choice, as many other USDA agencies in the area partner closely with stakeholders,” U.S. Senator Pat Roberts said. “The vital research that will occur at the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) and already occurs throughout the KC Animal Health Corridor makes Kansas City a natural fit. I am pleased that USDA recognizes the rich resources the heartland provides.”

“After months of advocating to Secretary Perdue that NIFA and ERS ought to be relocated to the Kansas City area, I’m thrilled that USDA has selected Kansas City to house these critical research agencies,” U.S. Senator Jerry Moran said. “The animal health corridor, stretching from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, is the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world, and Kansas is also the home of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility – and today’s decision further bolsters Kansas City’s status as a national leader in the ag industry. It is always positive when our government can operate outside of Washington and closer to the people it serves, and I am certain that the decision to relocate NIFA and ERS to Kansas City is a good one. I look forward to helping welcome these USDA agencies and employees to Kansas City.”

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