USDA Announces Plans to Create Rural Community Economic Development Subcommittee of its Equity Commission

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2022 — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it will create a Rural Community Economic Development (RCED) subcommittee under the recently launched Equity Commission. Nominations and applications to join the RCED Sub-Committee are due May 6th.

The Federal Register notice is another important step toward fully implementing President Biden’s commitment to create an American Rescue Plan Act Equity and Disposition Commission that directs the USDA to ” addressing historical discrimination and disparities in the agricultural sector… [through] one or more equity commissions to address racial equity issues within the USDA and its programs.

“The Rural Communities Economic Sub-Committee (RCED) will play a critical role in addressing the issues of persistent poverty in rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We are committed to giving every recommendation that the Equity Commission fully considers with the goal of implementing systemic and lasting change. This work is long overdue and will lay the groundwork for generations to come.

“The USDA Equity Commission has taken off since its first meeting in February,” said Under Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, co-chair of the Equity Commission. “The work of this subcommittee will be invaluable to the commission as we seek to provide recommendations on how underserved rural communities can gain equitable access to USDA programs. I hope the work of this committee and subcommittee will identify ways to remove barriers and increase public access to, and confidence in, USDA programs and services.

The Equity Commission will advise the Secretary of Agriculture in identifying USDA 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. The Agriculture Sub-Committee was formed concurrently and will report to the Equity Commission and provide recommendations on agriculture-related issues of concern. This new RCED sub-committee will be responsible for providing recommendations on issues and concerns related to rural development, persistent poverty and underserved communities. The Equity Commission will present an interim report and provide actionable recommendations by September 2022. A final report will be generated by summer 2023.

The USDA invites nominations for membership on the RCED Subcommittee. The sub-committee will reflect a diversity of demographics, regions of the country, backgrounds, experience and expertise. The RCED subcommittee will require substantial representation from those whose mission it is to serve or advocate for underserved communities, minorities, women, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, rural communities and LGBTQI+ communities. Other perspectives to capture include those of community organizations, credit institutions, small businesses or cooperatives, tribal entities, academics or community colleges or professional staff, and members of the public and American communities who bring their personal experiences to the discussion.

Nominations for members of the RCED Sub-Committee are open to the public and any interested individual or organization may nominate qualified individuals for membership. Individuals who submitted nominations through the initial call for nominations for the Equity Commission and Agriculture Sub-Committee do not need to re-nominate, these nominations will still be considered. account for the RCED. The sub-committee will consist of 15 members, two of whom will be members of the already formed Equity Commission. More information is available in the Federal Register Notice.

President Biden signed an executive order on promoting racial equity and supporting underserved communities through the federal government and pledged to establish an equity commission as part of his rural agenda and his commitment to closing the racial wealth gap and addressing long-standing inequalities in agriculture. Section 1006 of the U.S. bailout directed the USDA to create the Equity Commission and funded the effort along with an additional $1 billion in funding to support forward-looking activities that advance equity and opportunity for historically underserved farmers, ranchers and forest owners. The funding will be used to close the gaps that currently exist in USDA program benefits, improve access to resources, and restore confidence in the Department for groups that have not had equal access to these resources through a combination grants, loans and pilot programs. , technical assistance, cooperation agreements, etc.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the Rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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