Alicia Dorn | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary, and the USDA Equity Commission convened a meeting at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to discuss advancing equity throughout USDA programs and services.
According to the USDA’s website, this 15-member independent commission is charged with evaluating USDA programs and services and will recommend how the department can reduce barriers for accessing them. Using this information, the USDA will make needed changes so that their programs, services and decisions reflect the values of equity and inclusion. This will ensure everyone has a fair shot at resources, begin closing the racial wealth gap and addressing longstanding inequities in agriculture.
The work of the Equity Commission will empower USDA to objectively confront the hard reality of past discrimination and its lingering harm; helping USDA build back better and serve their customers more fairly and equitably.
During the planning of the visit, the USDA focused on engaging with students at the university. For learning and shadowing purposes, the commission’s planning team identified Reagan Adams, a UAPB School of Broadcasting/Multimedia Journalism student, to assist with creating equity stories for the commission.
The goal of the meeting was to produce recommendations to report back to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Upon the conclusion of the meeting, the commission produced 27 recommendations focused on how citizens are impacted by USDA programs and services and what can be done to resolve the issues.
“I am pleased that the USDA Equity Commission and Deputy Secretary Bronaugh convened this extremely important meeting at UAPB to address advancing equity at the USDA. Likewise, I am confident that the group will formulate recommendations to ensure measurable improvements across all programs and services at USDA,” said UAPB Chancellor Laurence B. Alexander.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.