House Democrats Re-introduce Bill To Stop Research Agency Politicization and Relocation

WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) re-introduced H.R. 1221, the “Agriculture Research Integrity Act,” today to prevent the relocation, politicization, and weakening of federal agriculture research agencies. The bill is cosponsored by Reps. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Mark Pocan (D-WI).

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has proposed moving the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Economic Research Service (ERS) out of the Washington, D.C., area, in addition to shifting authority of ERS from the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics to the Office of the Secretary. 

H.R. 1221, the Agriculture Research Integrity Act (ARIA), would both require the USDA to keep the agencies within the capital area and keep ERS within the purview of the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics so it can remain free of politicization.  

“Relocating the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would be extremely disruptive to the mission of the USDA and impact hundreds of federal employees,” said Congressman Hoyer.  “I join in thanking Congresswoman Pingree for introducing this important legislation.”

“The scientific research our food and farming system depends on shouldn’t be dictated by whoever’s in office at the time, nor should be it be hollowed out when we need it the most. The proposed relocation and reorganization of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service unnecessarily threaten the integrity and robustness of their critical work,” Congresswoman Pingree said. “My colleagues and I have repeatedly sent this message to the Secretary. Since he’s forging ahead regardless of our feedback—or the concerns of the nation’s agriculture research scientists—this bill is a necessary step.”   

The bill is backed by every Democratic member of the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee—Reps. Bishop, Cuellar, DeLauro, Lee, McCollum, Pingree, and Pocan—as well as former and current House Agriculture Committee members Reps. Carbajal, Fudge, Kuster, McGovern, and Panetta. Reps. Hoyer and Norton represent constituents in the capital area. 

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that would ensure the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Economic Research Service can continue to effectively carry out their vital research missions,” said Congressman Bishop, Chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. “NIFA and ERS work closely with research institutions around the country and collaborate with numerous other federal agencies in the Washington, D.C. area. Abruptly relocating these agencies and politicizing their leadership will disrupt the important work they are doing, and could cause an unnecessary loss in valuable expertise through staffing losses. None of this would be helpful at a time when our farmers are facing retaliatory tariffs and years of declining commodity prices.”

“The proposal to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture is yet another attack on science by the Trump Administration,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “For years, both agencies have been invaluable resources on research and support for the food and agricultural community. This shocking proposed move—including the sham application process for the relocation of ERS and NIFA—threatens to politicize these agencies and undermines their ability to carry out their important missions. Congress must step up and pass this bill to prevent the Trump Administration from evading Congressional oversight authority.”

“In the face of rising economic and environmental challenges, the nation must be able to rely on sound, objective agricultural research to address these concerns,” said Congresswoman Fudge.  “Keeping both agencies in place and the Economic Research Service free from political influence will ensure just that.”

“The proposed relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is unnecessary and could disrupt the critical research and program development that is currently taking place,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This attempt to downsize the important role of NIFA and the Economic Research Service will hamstring our nation’s ability to conduct cutting-edge research at a time when American agriculture must accelerate productivity.”

“This move threatens the agriculture-related science and research that Central Coast farmers rely on,” said Congressman Carbajal. “I’m thankful for Congresswoman Pingree’s vigilance and action on behalf of our agricultural producers to prevent this backwards reorganization effort.”

“The Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture provide producers, policymakers, and academic institutions valuable data and programmatic support,” said Congressman Panetta. “Plans to dislocate them from key federal partners is a disservice to those requiring timely, impartial information. The Administration should strengthen budgets and address staffing shortages within these agencies, not force disruptive relocations and reorganizations.”

“The Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize and relocate two USDA agencies would threaten their independence and hinder their mission to provide critical research,” said Congresswoman Norton. “The Trump administration bypassed normal procedures and ignored required considerations when announcing these moves. These agencies should stay in the National Capital Region, where they belong, so federal researchers can continue to do their jobs.”

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