Anyone who wonders why there’s an anti-Washington “drain-the-swamp” mentality needs to look no further than the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This federal agency is supposed to serve rural Americans, but some employees have shown a remarkable lack of respect for the USDA’s leadership and an appalling level of disdain for those of us who reside in this part of the country.
We get it. USDA employees are not happy about the relocation of two agency facilities — the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture — from Washington, D.C., to Kansas City. The move impacts more than 500 highly paid, highly educated federal workers who conduct important research and analysis on current issues, like the effect of climate change on agriculture.
Anyone has the right to be disappointed, worried and even angry after being told your job is moving 1,000 miles away. These government employees have set down roots with family, schools and housing in the D.C. area. Working in the nation’s political and administrative center must be a thrill.
But to turn your back on USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue — as some USDA employees did as a form of protest at a meeting — tips the scales from disappointed and worried to arrogant and elitist.
Objections to the move range from what some employees view as unrealistic expectations of cost savings and perceived workforce deficiencies in the Midwest to the detrimental impact on independent research. One USDA employee even suggested that Kansas City is not a walkable enough urban area.
(By that logic, they should relocate to Oakland or Minneapolis, which, along with Washington, D.C., made Walkscore.com’s list of the 10 most walkable cities in America. Kansas City was not on the list.)
Something tells us USDA employees wouldn’t be too keen on taking a walk anywhere west of the farming community of Alexandria, Virginia. The problem is, states west of the Appalachians seem to be the areas where lots of farming and ranching takes place, so someone in that department might have to set foot in these parts on occasion. Or, God forbid, live here.
Contrast the attitude of USDA employees with the professionalism of those at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, who were uprooted recently from a headquarters in St. Joseph to a location in Atlanta.
Surely, some BI employees were disappointed, and some may have decided not to make the move. That’s their business.
They managed to pull off the move without alienating those in their new city or throwing a pity party in the former location. The same, so far, can’t be said for these USDA employees who don’t wish to leave the comfort zone of Washington, D.C.