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Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Foundational Cornerstones of Research & Science

Posted by Dr. Shefali Mehta, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in Research and Science
Jan 20, 2022
Three scientists looking at a vial with USDA Science overlay

To ensure the greatest impact of the research and statistical work conducted in the Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, equity, diversity and inclusion must be a core part of our USDA science agencies’ programs, operations and culture.

Advancing equity, both internally and externally, has been a major focus of our agencies over the past year. In line with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities, REE created an Equity Action Plan outlining actions we intend to take in 2022 to further our progress in service to stakeholders and communities who have often been overlooked and underserved.

REE programs provide critical information, data and research that impact countless USDA programs and stakeholders across the country. Our ability to fully reflect the public interest ensures that we’re able to deliver the best research, science and data for the many stakeholders who rely on us.

As a mission area, REE’s commitment to equity falls into 6 overarching, interwoven categories:

  • evolving the research and data portfolio to integrate and reflect the diversity of the country we serve,
  • targeting research and education funding opportunities for historically underserved groups,
  • broadening and diversifying partnerships,
  • improving access to research and data,
  • strengthening the agricultural and food research pipeline, and
  • evolving our internal culture.

We will pursue these priorities and cascading actions with vigor and a commitment to the people that rely on and trust our data and research. These actions build on the progress made thus far and respond directly to the priorities outlined in Executive Order 13985 Racial Equity and Support to Underserved Communities.

By further embedding diversity, equity and inclusion directly into our programs and our culture, we simultaneously strengthen our research, expand the reach and impact, broaden opportunities for our next generation of scientists and leaders, and reinforce public trust in USDA’s premier research enterprise.

Category/Topic: Research and Science

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James Perkins
Jan 23, 2022

I like the efforts provided by the USDA , however I would like to hear from the person in charge of Diversity by email or phone call regarding the programs grants and loans that can be of assistance to African American Farmers.

James Perkins MD Phd

Ben Weaver
Jan 24, 2022

@James Perkins - thank you for your comment. While all USDA programs are available to producers, including African American farmers, there are specific incentives and priorities available to historically underserved producers for USDA farm loans, disaster assistance, safety-net programs and conservation programs. To learn more about available programs, contact your local USDA Service Center or visit

Here is a detailed list:


  • For direct and guaranteed loans, loan applications are eligible for targeted funds.
  • For the down payment loan program, funds are available for a down payment fund the purchase of a family farm or ranch using loans from a commercial lender and FSA.
  • Land contract guarantees to a person who sells land to a socially disadvantaged producer.
  • Priority purchasing for farmland held in FSA’s inventory.

Protection and Recovery

  • For Emergency Livestock Assistance Program, reimbursement up to 90% of cost of losses.
  • For the Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, waived administrative fee and eligible for 50% premium reduction on buy up coverage.


  • For Environmental Quality Incentives Program, eligible for higher payment rates up to 90% of average cost and targeted funds. Also, advanced payment option available.
  • For Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, eligible for targeted funds.
  • For Agricultural Management Assistance Program, eligible for higher payment rates.
  • For Conservation Innovation Grants, eligible for higher payment rates, and funding is set aside for projects that include socially disadvantaged producers.
  • For Regional Conservation Partnership Program and Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, projects prioritized that include socially disadvantaged producers.
  • For Emergency Conservation Program, eligible for higher payment rates, up to 90% of practice cost.
  • For Transition Incentives Program, additional payments for Conservation Reserve Program landowners with expiring contracts if they transition their land through selling or long-term lease to farmers of color as well as other socially disadvantaged producers.

Additional resources for grants specifically for farmers and producers can be found here:

National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program

Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grant