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Equity at USDA

Register for the USDA Regional Equity Convening: Pacific Northwest

Join us on June 18, 2024, for the USDA Regional Equity Convening for the Pacific Northwest region co-hosted by Wallowa Resources and the Native American Agriculture Fund at the Tamastslikt Center in Pendleton, Oregon. This event will explore the "Power of Rural Partnerships” in natural resource strategies, climate adaptation, forest restoration, rural housing, and workforce development and housing efforts.

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Stories

 

National flag of the USA, in front of US Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C.

 

USDA’s mission (PDF, 9.6 MB) is:

"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."

Equity is not an add-on or extra; it is central. To accomplish this mission, we must, together, build and maintain public trust and confidence among USDA stakeholders that this truly is, in the words of President Lincoln, the “People’s Department”. We must: (1) identify and root out systemic discrimination in USDA programs; (2) ensure equitable access to USDA programs and services for all communities, including by removing barriers to access and working to repair past mistakes that have resulted in economic, social, and racial disparities; and (3) promote nutrition security, a healthy environment, and the opportunity for a good life for every person, in every community in America.

 

  

USDA Convenes Inaugural National Equity Summit, Equity Commission Delivers Final Report

USDA Updates Equity Action Plan

White House and USDA discuss advancing equity and opportunity in agriculture (February 1, 2024)

Sharing data on farms operated by socially disadvantaged, women, and limited resource farmers and ranchers (February 1, 2024)

Application period closes for Discrimination Financial Assistance Program (Section 22007 of the Inflation Reduction Act)

Progress on funds for financially distressed borrowers (Section 22006 of the Inflation Reduction Act). With resources authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Biden in August 2022, USDA has, as of May 14, 2024, helped more than 42,800 farmers and ranchers who were in financial distress stay on their farms and farming, providing over $2.3 billion and counting in immediate assistance. The program is part of the Department’s ongoing effort to keep borrowers farming, remove obstacles that currently prevent many borrowers from returning to their land, and improve the way that USDA approaches borrowing and loan servicing in the long-term.

More USDA Equity NewsUSDA Equity Accomplishments and Resources

 

 

Over the course of its existence, USDA has faced several pivotal moments—times when our direction and efforts can fundamentally reshape the lives of agricultural producers, rural Americans, our country, and the world. Today, we are at such a moment. We must decide—Do we want to continue to use a system that benefits only a few or do we want a system that benefits all? USDA and the Biden-Harris Administration recognize that meeting this moment for all Americans means transforming the current system.  

USDA’s work is not just about farms and the people who work them and their associated processes.

  • It’s about keeping businesses alive in small towns.
  • It’s about school children having access to healthy food grown in their own communities.
  • It’s about protecting our planet from droughts and wildfires and natural disasters.
  • It’s about America leading the way in what it means to be a sustainable, inclusive, resilient place.

Centering equity in this work is essential.

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.

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.

 
 

 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack meeting with Native American Youth at the Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent time with the 30 Students from Eastern and Western Tribes, Southeast Alaska, and Tuba City, Arizona planting vegetable seeds that are indigenous to North America.
 

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, left, during a visit to Siesta Shores and Falcon Lake

Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, left, announced that USDA is investing $102 million to expand access to housing and water infrastructure for socially disadvantaged rural people who live and work in 45 states and American Samoa, during a visit to Siesta Shores and Falcon Lake in Zapata Co., TX.
 

USDA’s Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux is presented with Sweet Grass by Kipp Family during honoring ceremony before meeting with members of the Blackfeet Extension Stockgrowers/PHLI/Ag Producers to listen to their concerns and discuss solution they are working on to help during a meeting

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux is presented with Sweet Grass by Kipp Family during honoring ceremony before meeting with members of the Blackfeet Extension Stockgrowers/PHLI/Ag Producers to listen to their concerns and discuss solution they are working on to help during a meeting.
 

U.S. Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kevin Shea welcomes students from the National 4-H conference to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kevin Shea welcomes students from the National 4-H conference to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
 

United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics Sanah Baig, U.S. Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kevin Shea and U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director Dr. Dionne Toombs welcome students from the National 4-H conference to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics Sanah Baig, Acting Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kevin Shea and U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture Director Dr. Dionne Toombs welcome students from the National 4-H conference to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine and Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean visited Watkins ES in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel Levine and Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean visited Watkins ES in Washington, D.C. in recognition of National Nutrition Month.
 

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young (center) visits with scientists and engineers participating in the “Meet the Scientists and Engineers Program,” during the 4th USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C,

USDA Agricultural Research Service Administrator Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young (center) visits with scientists and engineers participating in the “Meet the Scientists and Engineers Program,” during the 4th USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington D.C. 
 

Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt greets a vendor at the USDA Farmer's Market.

Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt greets a vendor at the USDA Farmer's Market.
 

United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics Sanah Baig meets with Max Finberg, Growing Hope Globally as USDA resumes hosting its annual Ramadan Iftar Celebration on Thursday, April 13, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary, Research, Education, and Economics Sanah Baig meets with Max Finberg, Growing Hope Globally as USDA resumes hosting its annual Ramadan Iftar Celebration. 
 

 

Strategy for Impact

In response to Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, and Executive Order 14091, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government, USDA has adopted seven department-wide strategies to advance equity over the coming year:

Seven Department-Wide Strategies to Advance Equity image
  1. Broaden access to agricultural programs. Ensure agricultural resources and assistance for producers are broadly accessible, while creating new, more, and better market opportunities so USDA policies and programs advance agriculture for all who want to participate, not just a few, promoting rural prosperity and economic security.
  2. Promote rural prosperity. Promote prosperity and economic security in rural communities by empowering people with modern infrastructure, connecting business owners to new opportunities for growth, and supporting community-driven solutions to build brighter futures in rural America.
  3. Promote nutrition security. Promote nutrition security and health equity through USDA nutrition assistance programs to ensure all Americans have access to the nutrition they need.
  4. Broaden access to forest resources and outdoor experiences. Ensure equitable access to forest resources, funding opportunities, and outdoor experiences; and target wildfire prevention and conservation investments where they are most needed.
  5. Advance equity in federal procurement by providing underserved and disadvantaged businesses tools and resources to increase access to funding opportunities and by helping promote safe and secure provision of services and supplies.
  6. Empower tribal sovereignty. Empower tribal sovereignty and uphold treaty responsibilities to Indian tribes, removing barriers to access USDA programs and incorporating indigenous values and perspectives in program design and delivery.
  7. Protect civil rights. Commit unwaveringly to civil rights by improving tools, skills, capacity, and processes to more effectively and efficiently enforce them.

These strategies update USDA’s 2022 Equity Action Plan, learning from hundreds of engagements with our customers and would-be customers—through listening sessions, requests for information, outreach events, tribal consultations, and advisory committees (including, preeminently, USDA’s Equity Commission).

We will operationalize our goals using

Four approaches image
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1. Reduce administrative, economic, historical, and other barriers to program access, and ensuring our programs include processes to observe, understand, and remove or mitigate such barriers. #ReduceBarriers
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2. Partner with trusted technical assistance providers to ensure that underserved producers and communities have the support they need to access USDA programs. #Partner
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3. Direct USDA programs to those who need them the most. #MeetNeeds
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4. Operate transparently and accountably, providing the information on Department programs that Congress, stakeholders, and the general public need to hold us to account on our equity agenda, and working systematically to collect and take account of public feedback. #Transparency

Equity Accomplishments

For more on USDA’s equity strategy and progress since 2021, visit the Equity Accomplishments page and the Equity Action Plans page.

 

 

Conference participants visited Hub of Prosperity in Edinburg
Reflections from the Road: USDA Journeys to Texas for its Second Regional Equity Convening
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Cecilia Hernandez in the Power of Partnerships Equity event
Reflections from the Road: USDA Co-Hosts Inaugural Regional Equity Convening in Michigan
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Cecilia Hernandez in the Equity Commission meeting
Echándole Ganas: Giving it My All to Honor Legacy and Elevate Voices
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USDA logo
National Agriculture Day: How USDA is Growing a Climate for Tomorrow by Transforming our Food System Today
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Two women working in a market
Local Agriculture Market Program Grant Recipient Helps Small Farms and Their Community Prosper
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People talking near a forest
2501 Program Recipient Helps Heirs Connect with Important Resources
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Cargill Gallman Pavilion
High Speed Heroes Keeping Rural Texans Connected
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A man in a warehouse
Essential Storage Expansion Helps Food Connects Create More Capacity
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Women with a child
Grupo De Mujeres Provides Education, Community for Spanish-Speaking Women
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A scientist working
Fort Valley State University Project Is Building Reproductive Technology Capacities
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Adults with children near a wall
Growing Opportunities for Women in Agriculture
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Mother and daughter near plants
A Family Brew – Celebrating Mother-Daughter Coffee Farmer on International Women’s Day
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Dr. Dewayne Goldmon speaking
Establishing the Equity Commission with USDA Senior Advisors Drs. Dewayne Goldmon and Gbenga Ajilore
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Ertharin Cousin
Ertharin Cousin: Improving Social Equity in the Food and Agriculture Industry
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A boat on the water in Canada
USDA Under Secretary Alexis Taylor to Lead Historic Native Nations Agribusiness Trade Mission to Canada
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A farmer in a soybean field
1890 Land-grant Institutions Strengthening Agricultural Profitability and Sustainability of Small-Scale Farms
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A man in front of a barn
Rural Development Assisting Female Vets Down East
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USDA logo
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Background, Trends, and Economic Issues, 2024 Edition
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Walkers gather for morning circle at Log Springs in Mendocino National Forest
100-mile trek: California's Trail of Tears Commemorated in Nome Cult Walk
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Walter Brooks, Jr.
Soulful Food and Sauces: Through USDA Programs, A Black Agribusiness Owner Rises Internationally
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Dr. Jhones Sarturi
E. Kika De La Garza Fellow Expands Public Service
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African-American man and woman
Celebrating Black History at Black Seeds Urban Farm
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Fruits
APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine Program Recognizes Black History Month – “African Americans and the Arts”
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Supercell storm in Montana
NIFA Celebrates Climate Hubs for 10 Years of Helping Farmers, Ranchers and Forest Landowners Enhance Climate Resilience
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USDA Women in Science graphic
USDA Women in Science Share Advice with the Next Generation
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Dionne F. Toombs, Associate Director for Programs
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
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A person working outside
New SARE Publication Supports Urban Agriculture
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A barn in a field
Two-Year Anniversary of Customer Experience Executive Order: Pt. 6 Delivering for Small Towns
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Rural Utilities Service Administrator Andrew Berke
USDA ReConnect Is Paving the Way for a More Connected and Prosperous Future for All Residents
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USDA logo
Agriculture Secretary Calls on States to Take Action to Improve SNAP Administration for Families in Need
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Alan Cruz
USDA Future Leader in Agriculture Student Sees Future in Yuma
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USDA Trade card logo
USDA Announces 2024 Agricultural Export Market Challenge Participants
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USDA RD card logo
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Visits Minnesota to Highlight Biden-Harris Administration’s Investments in Clean Energy Infrastructure in Rural America
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Moulton Fire Department in the city of Moulton
Moulton, Iowa, Modernizes Fire Department
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A bridge near a creek
Carolina Conservation: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Environmental Justice at Work
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Shari Rogge-Fidler holding corn
Shari Rogge-Fidler: Encouraging Next-Generation Farmers to Get Engaged and Seize Opportunity
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Picture of improved business processes and the year 2024
Two-Year Anniversary of Customer Experience Executive Order - Pt. 2: Establishing USDA’s CX Framework
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Zakiah Goodlow
USDA 1890 National Scholar Balances Responsibilities
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Improve Customer Experience graphic
Two-Year Anniversary of Customer Experience Executive Order: USDA Celebrates Customer Experience Efforts
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People at a ribbon cutting ceremony
Ribbon Cutting and Open House held at Dallas USDA Urban Service Center
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People standing in a room
Advancing Homeownership on Montana's Tribal Lands
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Bennett County ambulance
What if the ambulance never comes?
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Women standing in the Whitten building
NIFA Teams Honored with USDA Nation to Nation Tribal Innovation Awards
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Toni Stanger McLaughlin
Toni Stanger-McLaughlin: Highlighting Tribal Nations and Indigenous Foods during Native American Heritage Month
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USDA Deputy Secretary with a group of people
Partner Spotlight: Urban Transformation Network
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A group of people
USDA Rural Development Helps Make ‘Home for the Holidays’ a Reality for Kauai Families
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A man in front of stacked boxes
A Season of Thanksgiving
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Wild rice
Where the Wild Rice Grows: USDA Celebrates Indigenous Agriculture, Businesses, and Peoples
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A woman smiling
2501 Grant Enhances Food Sovereignty Among Native Communities
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A creek
The Shape of Water: A Tribe’s Connection and Conservation Efforts to North Carolina’s Waterways
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MNI Waste building
Delivering mni wašté to residents of Cheyenne River Reservation
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Dr. Frank Lake
Through learned lenses
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Buildings
Finding Common Ground: A Community Economic Development Project
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Kimberly High at Joppy Momma’s Farm
USDA People’s Garden Groundbreaking Ceremony at Joppy Momma’s Farm
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A girl on a horse
NIFA’s FRTEP Supporting Tribal Youth
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Cartersville Firefighter helmet
Broadband Provides Vital Lifeline for Protecting Lives and Property in Cartersville
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Two people in front of wine bottles
Uncorking New Business Growth with Broadband
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A boy
NIFA Communications Training with Hopi Community
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Makesi Harford
USDA Reasonable Accommodations Help Disabled Veteran Succeed with Federal Career
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Bridging the Gap in SNAP E&T
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Three star stand
USDA, Cooperative Extension and APLU Award 2023 Top Honors in Extension Excellence and Diversity
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A scientist working
Associate Professor Making a Better Way for Students Through E. Kika de la Garza Fellowship
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Three people smiling holding a Welcome to the NutHouse sign
International Day of Rural Women Spotlight: Indiana Soccer Moms Score Big as Global Entrepreneurs with USDA Assist
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Linda Leaks
Revitalized Communities Through Cooperatives: Linda Leaks Shows Interagency Working Group How It’s Done
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People outside under a tent
2501 Grants Support Traditional Farming and Culture in Hawaii
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A woman gesturing in a store
Replacing a Relic to Keep a Community Market Growing Strong
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Two women smiling
Hope & Main Nourishes Neighbors in Warren, RI
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Scientists working
Linking Food Access, Fiber Intake, Gut Microbiota & Health Outcomes Among New Hampshire’s Hispanic Residents
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Forest Supervisor, Kurt Davis of the Coronado National Forest and Chairman Terry Rambler of the San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona sign cross-boundary forest restoration agreement
Tribal Action Plan in Action
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Secretary Vilsack speaking at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
USDA Celebrates First Anniversary of the Historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
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Alok Arun
In His Own Words: E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellow Alok Arun
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David Josué Carrasquillo-Medrano
Planning for Equity: A Puerto Rican Community Planner's Journey to USDA's Equity Commission
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A woman shopping
Reflecting on and Improving on Tribal Programs at FNS
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View of Kwethluk school from the air
Critical Need to Increase Food Security in Rural Alaska
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A man standing beside Vision Statement and Mission Statement text
Health Care Grant Provides Pandemic Lifeline to Rural Montana Senior Care Facility
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Two masked men, a woman and a man holding a root
1890s Institutions Charging Forth on Specialty Crop Projects through USDA Support
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People standing together in the USDA Whitten building
USDA Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and Hispanic-Serving Institutions
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William French
Streamlining Farm Operations in Cumberland
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Arkansas River Rice’s state-of-the-art rice mill
Building Opportunities for Minority Farmers through McGovern-Dole Program
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Christopher Epps
USDA/1890 National Scholars Program Has a Lifetime Impact
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A person using a tractor
Urban Agriculture Forum provides opportunity for information, networking
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People standing together in front of a HungerActionMonth hashtag with Capital Area Food Bank background
Feds Feed Families During Hunger Action Month
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Ron Rainey portrait
Ron Rainey: Agriculture Economist Advancing Technical Assistance and Extension Program Opportunities to Improve Financial Outcomes for Farmers
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Two people working in a greenhouse
Partner Spotlight: Africulture: Connecting Underserved Farmers to Conservation and Market Opportunities
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Hands holding soil with a plant
Listen Better, Serve Better
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People in a greenhouse
USDA Helps Alaskan Communities Meet Sustainable Food System Goals
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A woman smiling behind fruits and vegetables on a stand
Modernizing SNAP Transactions with Local Farmers
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Peaches at the farmer's market
GusNIP Efforts Impacting Rural Communities – and Economies
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A family in the garden
Land-grant Universities Improve Local Food Security
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A group of 14 YouthMappers from Tanzania pose in front of jeeps before going out into the field for research
From Sky to Soil: Young Agricultural Leaders Nourish FAS Satellite Data with Grassroots Truth
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Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean smiles with another woman as a child plants flowers in a green pot as part of a youth gardening activity at the Spirit Lake Sioux FDPIR building
FNCS Supports Food Sovereignty of Tribal Nations
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A woman helping a child chop pepper
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Finding New Ways to Reach Audience
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A family in the garden
Land-grant Universities Improve Local Food Security
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Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small
USDA Mission Areas, Agencies, and Offices’ Equity Action Plans Are Making Progress
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A woman speaking into a microphone
Announcing NRCS New York Local Working Group Meetings
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A truck in downtown Dallas, Texas
USDA establishing new Urban Service Center in Dallas and Urban County Committee in Houston
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NRCS PIA and partner organizations speaking to local O'ahu farmers
NRCS Pacific Islands Area Connects with O’ahu Farmers
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A group of Black students and their instructors stand outdoors
USDA/1890 National Scholars Program Makes Collegiate and Agricultural Careers a Reality
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People in a group looking at a wall of organizations
Putting the CO in Co-located Services
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Farmer
USDA NRCS Awards Zenger Farm Equity Agreement
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Farmer
2023 "Growing Together" Black Farmer Conference to be Held April 21
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Farmers Market
105-Year-Old Fondy Farmers Market Increases Access to Healthy, Local Food and Economic Opportunity in Greater Milwaukee Area
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Farmers market
Increasing Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Youth Engagement, Farmer Support, and Climate Adaptation on the Tohono O’odham Nation
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OPPE internship students and administrators in front of USDA
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Members of 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. In October 2023, the body finalized its work by voting on a total of 66 recommendations that will be included in the Final Report to be published in 2024.

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

 

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)

USDA Strategic Plan Report Cover

 

USDA Equity Accomplishments and Resources
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