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equity

Charlie Rawls: Amplifying Diverse Voices in the Process of Advancing Equity for All

With a legal lens and knack for paying attention to detail, Equity Commission Member Charles (Charlie) Rawls has been the go-to source to help capture the essence of the Equity Commission’s intentions. With his firsthand experience working on civil rights reforms at the Department of Agriculture as General Counsel and his visionary collaboration and advocacy skills, Rawls contribution to the Final Report (PDF, 2.0 MB), released in February 2024, was an asset to the Equity Commission. For Rawls, the Equity Commission’s work has come full circle. His career was influenced by his time spent at USDA in the 1990s, serving in various roles which provided a foundation for his lifelong efforts addressing civil rights issues within the agricultural sector.

E. Kika De La Garza Science Fellow Finds Community in Fellowship

Dr. Samuel Discua is a postdoctoral researcher at University of Arizona Yuma in the Department of Entomology, where he studies the ecology and management of insect pests associated with leafy greens and melons in Arizona cropping systems. Yuma and the rest of the state lead national lettuce crop production. His research currently focuses on the role of host plants in the transfer of insect-transmitted diseases in lettuce and melons. He also teaches a series of courses at University of Yuma on Agricultural Systems Management and Crop Production.

Echándole Ganas: Giving it My All to Honor Legacy and Elevate Voices

With the end of Women’s History Month coinciding with César Chávez Day, I’ve been reflecting on my personal and professional experience and the journey that has taken me to my current role as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Designated Federal Officer (DFO) of the Equity Commission. It is also extremely fitting that this year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” Being a Mexican American woman, I’m incredibly proud – and honored – to support the 41 Commission members as they’ve developed recommendations that will impact not only the communities I come from but all communities that are representative of the diverse America we know today. As a career federal employee, I also have the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to ensure that the recommendations receive attention and commitment from USDA to make lasting change.

2501 Program Recipient Helps Heirs Connect with Important Resources

In 2020, The Center for Heirs Property Preservation (CHPP) in Charleston, South Carolina was awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2501 grant to support its mission of helping families keep their property and put it to work for them. The 1990 Farm Bill created the 2501 Program to support the efforts of organizations like CHPP to provide training and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers, ranchers and foresters who seek to own and operate successful farms, ranches and forest lands.

Establishing the Equity Commission with USDA Senior Advisors Drs. Dewayne Goldmon and Gbenga Ajilore

In January 2021, day one of the Biden-Harris Administration, the President issued Executive Order 13985 that charged the Federal Government, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with advancing equity for all, and making the necessary changes to ensure underserved communities are properly supported. Since then, USDA has taken action to understand where barriers to accessing its programs and services exist, identifying opportunities to advance equity and opportunity in agriculture, and changing its programs to remove barriers to access. With this bold and comprehensive action, USDA has committed to closing the racial wealth gap and addressing the department’s longstanding inequities in agriculture.

Ertharin Cousin: Improving Social Equity in the Food and Agriculture Industry

True sustainability in the agriculture industry starts with equity. When we take steps to recognize the challenges members in our community face around issues of equity – when we are committed to providing all farmers and farmworkers an equal chance of success and prosperity—we are building a community that is stronger, a community that is more resilient, and a community where all groups are valued and affirmed.

USDA Women in Science Share Advice with the Next Generation

At USDA, we harness the power of agricultural science to transform the world. To create a future that is more sustainable, prosperous and equitable for everyone. This requires a diverse scientific workforce that is driving innovation forward. Women voices and perspectives are a crucial part of this work.

Toni Stanger-McLaughlin: Highlighting Tribal Nations and Indigenous Foods during Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. This is a time to celebrate Native American history and culture while also exploring the ongoing contributions, achievements, and hardships of Native people in the United States. This month’s theme, Indigenous Foods: The Intersection Between Land, Food, and Culture, highlights a challenge that many Native Americans face—food insecurity. USDA recognizes this and the importance of empowering Native Americans by building back sustainable food systems that strengthen food security and increases their control over Native agriculture and food systems.

Where the Wild Rice Grows: USDA Celebrates Indigenous Agriculture, Businesses, and Peoples

Agriculture is a key component of Native peoples’ culture and heritage. Today more and more tribal nations are looking to establish and expand access to global markets. For example, Minnesota’s Red Lake, Inc. – wholly owned by the Red Lake Nation – has begun to join USDA’s agribusiness trade missions (ATM), seeking to establish new partnerships around the world.