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Equity at USDA

USDA can only succeed in its mission to help America thrive—and can only live up to President Lincoln's description of it as the "People's Department"—if it ensures that the Americans who need its services most receive them. Equity is not an add-on or extra; it is central to the Department’s mission (PDF, 9.6 MB):

"To serve all Americans by providing effective, innovative, science-based public policy leadership in agriculture, food and nutrition, natural resource protection and management, rural development, and related issues with a commitment to deliverable equitable and climate-smart opportunities that inspire and help America thrive."

An Equity Commission meeting

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More USDA Equity NewsUSDA Equity Accomplishments and Resources

EQUITY IS: the consistent and systematic treatment of all individuals in a fair, just, and impartial manner, including individuals who belong to communities that often have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander persons and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; women and girls; LGBTQI+ persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; persons who live in United States Territories; persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality; and individuals who belong to multiple such communities.

IT MEANS RECOGNIZING: people’s frustrations run deep and are rooted in their own daily battles—to make ends meet, to maintain their land, to put food on their tables, and to give their children a shot at economic opportunity. Gaps in access to USDA programs challenge the very core of who we are as a Department. That’s why USDA is making equity a priority.

FROM CONCEPT TO ACTION: USDA has mobilized, department-wide, to remove barriers to access to our programs and services for all Americans, including ensuring USDA resources reach underserved communities and those with the most need. This page shows how.

In response to Executive Order 13985 Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, the Department’s Equity Action Plan details a subset of actions that USDA has prioritized because of their potential for high impact on the underserved farmers and ranchers, families and children, and rural communities.

  1. Reduce barriers to USDA programs.
  2. Partner with trusted technical assistance providers.
  3. Direct USDA programs to those who need them the most.
  4. Expand equitable access to USDA nutrition assistance programs.
  5. Advance equity in federal procurement.
  6. Uphold federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Tribes.
  7. Commit unwaveringly to civil rights.
  8. Operate with transparency and accountability.

Equity Accomplishments

For more on USDA’s equity strategy and the past two years’ progress, visit the Equity Accomplishments page.

Equity means that more people get what they need to flourish.

More USDA Equity Blog Posts

The Equity Commission

USDA's Equity Commission is an independent body with 41 Commission and Subcommittee members charged with evaluating USDA programs and services and developing recommendations on how we can reduce barriers. Using this information, USDA will make needed changes so that the Department's programs, services, and decisions reflect the values of equity and inclusion. This will ensure everyone has a fair shot at resources, begin closing the racial wealth gap, and address longstanding inequities in agriculture.

The work of the Equity Commission is empowering USDA to objectively confront the hard reality of past and help build back better by serving our customers fairly and equitably.

Learn more about the Equity Commission

Leading with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Front and Center: USDA’s commitment to diversity and equity includes both committed leadership and strong policy. USDA has issued a robust diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) strategic plan and has hired a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) and other staff to implement it. The CDIO leads USDAʼs work to build an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities USDA serves, bringing the best talent to USDA, retaining and investing in our workforce, and creating a culture where everyone feels welcomed.

At the core of USDAʼs Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plan are six focus areas for the next five years:

  • Build a culture that drives trust, belonging, transparency, accountability, and employee empathy.
  • Achieve a workforce representative of Americans that inspires development of innovative ideas and best practices.
  • Foster a workplace environment that is physically, mentally, and emotionally safe.
  • Establish leadership and governance structures to support long-term and sustainable DEIA efforts.
  • Promote empowerment, responsibility, and accountability for DEIA through developing the workforce.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible USDA through accountability, data collection, analysis, and effective policymaking.

USDA DEIA Strategic Plan (PDF, 1.2 MB)

A man and a woman with a variety of fruits and vegetables in a CSA produce box
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