The men and women who own and operate our country’s farms and ranches are increasingly diverse. In fact, according to USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, all categories of minority-operated farms increased between 2007 and 2012. The number of farms operated by Hispanics has increased by 21 percent in just five years.
My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), oversees all 22 industry-funded commodity research and promotion (R&P) programs. Led by industry board members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, these programs provide a framework for farmers and businesses to pool resources, set common goals and make collective decisions about how to best develop new markets, strengthen current markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.
Research and promotion programs (R&P) create opportunities for farms and businesses across the country, helping them to grow and adapt to a fast-changing marketplace. For R&P programs to be successful in leading and advancing American agriculture, it is essential that their board members reflect the full diversity of American agriculture. That’s why AMS and the boards have been working to make sure that the R&P boards bring everyone to the table – people and organizations of different backgrounds, perspectives and opinions. The programs are stronger when the boards represent all facets of the industries they represent and the consumers they serve.
As you can see in this short video—which includes interviews with five R&P board members (Isabel Freeland, formerly of the Hass Avocado Board & National Mango Board; Arlene Vander Eyk, National Dairy Board; Lisa Colby, National Pork Board; Dana Strong, National Watermelon Board; and Linda Taylor, Cotton Board)—our efforts are paying off.
As the agricultural landscape changes, AMS continues to fulfill its mission of facilitating marketing. We are committed to making sure that a diverse set of people and voices shape the future of American agriculture and dedicated to creating opportunities for all of our country’s farmers and ranchers.