About the Commission
In January 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and committed to creating an Equity Commission as part of his rural agenda and commitment to closing the racial wealth gap and addressing longstanding inequities in agriculture.
In March 2021, Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan directed USDA to create the Equity Commission and provided funds sufficient to ensure the Commission is well staffed and positioned to deliver on its charge.
In February 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the Equity Commission to advise the Secretary of Agriculture and provide USDA with an analysis of how its programs, policies, systems, structures, and practices that contribute to barriers to inclusion or access, systemic discrimination, or exacerbate or perpetuate racial, economic, health and social disparities and recommendations for action.
The Agriculture Subcommittee was formed concurrently with the Equity Commission and will report back to the Equity Commission and provide recommendations on issues of concern related to agriculture.
A Rural Community Economic Development (RCED) Subcommittee was formed in August 2022 and is charged with providing recommendations on issues and concerns related to rural development, persistent poverty, and underserved communities.
Inclusive membership is key to the success of the Equity Commission. The Equity Commission is composed of 15 members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture for a two-year term and may be reappointed for up to two additional terms.
- Equity Commission Composition
- 2 representatives from community-based organizations that represent underserved communities;
- 2 representatives with expertise in policy design and/or evaluation;
- 2 representatives with expertise in organizational development, design thinking, and/or change management;
- 1 representative with expertise in communications/public relations;
- 1 representative with expertise in civil rights;
- 1 representative with expertise in organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion;
- 1 economist with knowledge of social policy and economic disparities;
- 1 historian;
- 1 legal expert; and
- 3 such other persons representing a broad spectrum of related interest as the Secretary considers appropriate.
The Equity Commission’s Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development (RCED) is comprised of 15 members. Two members of the USDA Equity Commission will serve on the RCED Subcommittee.
- Rural Community Economic Development Subcommittee Composition
- 4 representatives from community-based organizations;
- 2 representatives from lending institutions;
- 2 representatives from small business or cooperatives;
- 1 representative from a tribal entity;
- 1 university, community college, or trades personnel;
- 3 individuals selected at the discretion of the Secretary; and,
- 2 members from the EC (as explained above).
The Equity Commission’s Subcommittee on Agriculture is comprised of 15 members who have expertise in agriculture, federal farm, conservation, and extension programs. Two members of the Subcommittee on Agriculture are also members of the EC.
- Agriculture Subcommittee Composition
- 3 farmers or ranchers;
- 2 university personnel with research and/or extension expertise from minority serving institutions;
- 2 individuals from community based organizations;
- 1 individual from the agricultural industry
- 1 individual with civil rights and equity expertise;
- 3 individuals selected at the discretion of the Secretary; and
- 2 members of the EC (as explained above).
Nomination and Application Process
Equity Commission and Subcommittee on Agriculture
On September 27, 2021, USDA published a Federal Register Notice to solicit nominations for membership on the Equity Commission Advisory Committee and Subcommittee on Agriculture. The application period was open through November 30, 2021. For specifics about the application process, please review the Federal Register Notice.
Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development
On April 8, 2022, USDA published a Federal Register Notice to solicit nominations for membership on the Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development. The application period was open through May 6, 2022 and members were announced in August of 2022. For specifics about the application process, please review the Federal Register Notice.
Legislation (Authority) and Guiding Documents
Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan directed USDA to create and fund the Equity Commission, signaling the beginning of the kinds of systemic, structural and cultural changes essential to advancing equity.
The following links provide additional information about the Commission and its membership.
- Equity Commission Charter
- Membership Balance Plan (PDF, 216 KB)
Summary of the Federal Advisory Committee Act 5 U.S.C. Appendix 2 (1972)
The Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) governs the operation of federal advisory committees and emphasizes public involvement through open meetings and reporting. Except in certain statutorily defined circumstances, all FACA committee meetings must be open to the public. Meetings must be announced in the Federal Register. Reports, transcripts, working papers, and other materials made available to or prepared for or by the committees must be made available to the public.
FACA calls upon federal agencies to carefully consider the necessity of a new committee before establishing it. Under FACA a discretionary committee is terminated after two years unless the agency renews the committee's charter prior to the two-year expiration date. Further, FACA requires agencies to terminate a committee once it has completed its function.
- Online version of FACA, from the General Services Administration
- The official text of FACA is available in the United States Code from the US Government Publishing Office