Dear Secretary Perdue,
Thank you for including the Greater Kansas City Region on the short list of possible locations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). We write to express our strong support for the selection of Kansas City to be the future home of these agencies.
We share your commitment to uphold the critical missions of ERS and NIFA during the relocation process and in the future. Agricultural research is one of the most critical functions of USDA. We must ensure the relocation supports and strengthens the research functions that are essential to the agriculture industry. As you continue to evaluate the finalists, we are confident you will find Kansas City to excel in each of the criteria considered by USDA: capital and operating costs, workforce, logistics and quality of life for employees.
We appreciate your focus on reducing the cost of government and making USDA more responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. You will find capital and operating expenses in Kansas City to be lower than Washington, D.C. and competitive nationally.
Kansas City is home to a highly-skilled workforce, including to approximately 5,000 USDA employees and contractors. The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor, stretching from Manhattan, Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, is the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world. Kansas is the future home of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), the nation's foremost animal disease research facility. Over a dozen land-grant universities and research institutions are located in close proximity of Kansas City. This concentration of animal health companies, NBAF and land-grant universities will not only complement the research capabilities of ERS and NIFA, but continue to foster a talented workforce to meet the personnel needs of USDA in the future.
Being centrally located, Kansas City offers convenient air and ground travel across the continental United States. The area is primarily served by the Kansas City International Airport, which is currently undergoing a $1.5 billion renovation to meet the needs of the growing local economy, with several regional airports also located nearby. Kansas City is ideally located for ERS and NIFA employees to simultaneously be closer to the agricultural stakeholders and rural communities they serve, while also being able to conveniently travel to USDA headquarters, research institutions and elsewhere across the nation.
We agree the quality of life of USDA employees ought to be a key consideration in relocating the agencies, and assure you that Kansas City is a premier place for people to live and work. Kansas City has undergone significant development in recent years, including a revitalized downtown area that offers residents a vibrant and exciting lifestyle. Kansas City residents enjoy some of the shortest commute times of any metropolitan area and have convenient access to popular destinations in both urban and rural areas of our states. The cost of living and residential housing costs in Kansas City are significantly lower than Washington D.C. and most other cities.
ERS and NIFA each play an important role in our nation's food and agricultural research, education and extension services. Relocating ERS and NIFA to the middle of the country provides an opportunity to enhance the agencies' respective roles within USDA and their ability to serve farmers, ranchers and rural communities. We appreciate your consideration of Kansas City to be the future home of ERS and NIFA and stand willing to be of assistance to you in relocating the agencies to the area.