Finger Lakes makes first cut in decision to relocate parts of USDA

U.S. Reps. Joe Morelle and Tom Reed have sent a letter urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to pick the Finger Lakes region for a planned relocation of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service.

Morelle and Reed wrote a week after the Department of Agriculture released a first-round list of locations it is considering for the relocation. The first cut narrowed the choices to 68 from an initial 136 expressions of interest from 35 states.

The Rochester/Finger Lakes is the only New York area that threw its hat in the ring. Some states had multiple nominations; Illinois, for instance, had 15 proposed locations in that state, and a 16th that was part of a joint proposal with Indiana. The first cut winnowed Illinois’ locations to nine.

New York’s congressmen described the Finger Lakes region to Perdue as “home to a robust and diverse agricultural industry, populated by a broad range of dairy farms, specialty crop growers, and value added producers, a wide array of food processors at all scales, and some of the country’s leading food retailers.” They also reminded him of his trip to the area last year.

The group that proposed the Finger Lakes area to Perdue is the FLX Food and Beverage Consortium, coordinated by Greater Rochester Enterprise and comprising Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester, several arms of Cornell University, Empire State Development, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, Tompkins County Area Development and Wegmans Food Markets Inc.

A timeline for the decision-making hasn’t been announced, but Perdue said in August 2018 that the staffs of the two agencies would be moving by the end of 2019.

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