Watchdog reviewing plan to shift control of key USDA office

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Agriculture’s plans to restructure its top independent research office will be reviewed by the agency’s internal watchdog.

Some lawmakers and staff are worried the plan to move the Economic Research Service out of the District of Columbia and change its leadership structure could leave research on contentious issues like climate change vulnerable to political pressures. They also question plans to move the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as well.

USDA says the relocation would place the two offices closer to those using their services, cut down on unnecessary costs and help with recruiting efforts, which the agency claims have been sluggish.

Two Democratic House members announced Thursday that the agency’s inspector general will review the proposed changes.

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