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USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small Launches Cross-Country College Tour to Visit Land-Grant Universities

This Series of college visits will highlight federal investment in Land-Grant Universities; USDA’s long-standing support for students, research and faculty; and career opportunities in agriculture and at USDA as the Department works to build a talented and diverse workforce for the future

WASHINGTON, January 25, 2024 – As students across the nation returned to school for the Spring semester, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small is continuing a multi-week college tour throughout the United States. During her tour, the Deputy is visiting campuses in at least seven states to highlight how the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Land-grant Universities to advance rural prosperity, climate-smart practices, competition, and sustainability. USDA is investing new funding for education and training, advancing cutting edge research, and bolstering economic development to build a food and agriculture food system that is climate-smart, sustainable, and equitable, and highlighting the ways USDA is making a difference on college campuses. USDA is also creating new career and job opportunities for the next generation of farmers, foresters, researchers, and entrepreneurs and changing the food and agriculture sector.

“The investments the Biden-Harris Administration is making in the next generation of agriculture will benefit people in every sector of agriculture, food, and forestry,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “President Biden is committed to the future of our students and delivering real-life, applicable solutions to decades old problems such as bringing broadband internet to communities across the country, updating desperately needed waste-water infrastructure, and increasing competition so there are more, better, and fairer markets for producers and consumers. All of this will better position the next generation of students and scientists to help us meet tomorrow’s agricultural challenges, and so much more.”

The Deputy Secretary’s College Tour includes visits to Land-grant Universities, which include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities. Throughout the tour, Deputy Secretary Torres Small discusses how the Biden-Harris Administration is working to create opportunities for young people, outlining the challenges and emerging career opportunities in the fields of agriculture, natural resources, food, nutrition, and rural development and hearing directly from students about their vision for the future.

The Deputy Secretary began her tour at Virginia State University in Petersburg, VA, on Tuesday, January 16, which was followed by visits to North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC, and Alamance Community College in Graham, NC, on January 17. On Friday, January 26, the Deputy will visit the University of Florida. USDA will share information on future stops as the tour continues.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided more than $5 billion in support to Land-grant University campuses since fiscal year 2021. Among NIFA’s student-centered scholarship programs for which these institutions have received funding are:

  • 1890 Scholarships Program: This program provides scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of undergraduate students at the 1890 Land-grant Universities, resulting in baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields.
  • New Beginnings for Tribal Students Program: This program aims to increase the retention and graduation rate of Tribal students attending 1994, 1862, and 1890 Land-grant Universities.
  • Food and Agricultural Sciences National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Program: This program is designated for graduate degree (master’s and doctoral) programs and postgraduate training of the next generation of policymakers, researchers, and educators in the food and agricultural sciences.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is also a longstanding supporter of Land-grant universities across the country and has 53 locations that are co-located with Land-grant partners that enhance opportunities for shared research, student training, and mentorship. Additionally, throughout FY 2023, ARS provided $193.5 million to 67 Land-grant universities to fund 968 extramural research projects of mutual interest across its four main program areas: crop production and protection, animal production and protection, natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems, and food safety and nutrition.

The Deputy Secretary’s tour builds on USDA’s continued investment in the future of agriculture and Land-grant Universities. In June 2023, USDA announced $262.5 million to help institutions of higher education foster the next generation of diverse agricultural professionals across the nation. That announcement will provide training and support to more than 20,000 future food and agriculture leaders and is part of USDA’s commitment to improve equity access, eliminate barriers to its programs for underserved individuals and communities, and build a workforce more representative of America. In July 2023, USDA announced $33 million to support capacity-building efforts at 1890 Land-grant Universities. That investment, administered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will support 82 research, Extension, and education projects across the nation’s 19 Historically Black Colleges and Universities designated as 1890 Land-grant Universities.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit


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