Somerset County Economic Development Commission
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Somerset EDC makes pitch to get USDA agencies to move here
November 7, 2018

Somerset EDC makes pitch to get USDA agencies to move here


Applicants in 35 states vying to be selected


By Richard Crumbacker

Crisfield-Somerset County Times


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Somerset County Economic Development Commission is working to have the U.S. Department of Agriculture approve Princess Anne as the new home for the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).


Somerset County EDC is one of 136 agencies, universities, local governments and non-profits trying to get the attention of the USDA which is moving ERS and NIFA out of the National Capital region by the

end of 2019.


USDA is retaining a consultant with expertise in relocations and will announce a decision on a new location or locations in January.


“The interest from across the country has been overwhelming as localities, universities, private entities, and elected officials realize the potential for their communities in become the new home for these two agencies,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said.


“It is an old saying that not all wisdom resides in Washington, D.C., but it is gratifying to see so many folks step forward wanting to prove that to be the case. We look forward to working with Ernst & Young in examining all of the proposals and selecting the new locations.”


Organizations in 35 states responded including 13 in Maryland. In addition to Somerset County EDC, on the Lower Shore there was an application from Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development (SWED).


Other shore locations submitting proposals by the Oct. 15 deadline were Caroline County, Kent County, Queen Anne’s County and independently the Town of Centreville in Queen Anne’s County.


Somerset County cited UMES in its application, and the already- established relationship it has with USDA as a land-grant institution. The university also has a close working relationship with other colleges and universities, Maryland Extension and the Agriculture Experiment Station.


Agriculture is also Somerset County’s largest industry, with major employers in the region to include Perdue, Mountaire and Tyson.

Currently 91 percent of USDA’s 108,000 employees work outside of the Washington, D.C., region. The move will place important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from the Washington, D.C. area.


Additionally, taxpayers will realize savings on employment costs and rent, which will allow more employees to be retained in the long run.


Finally, the plan will improve USDA’s ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities like the University of Maryland Eastern Shore which is an important highlight if the agencies were to locate in the Princess Anne area.


Under the plan, no ERS or NIFA employees will be involuntarily separated. Every employee who wants to continue working will have an opportunity to do so, although that will mean moving to a new location for most. Employees will be offered relocation assistance and will receive the same base pay as before, and the locality pay for the new location. 

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