The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is continuing its commitment to bolster agricultural programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by allocating $33 million to enhance the budgets of those institutions.
According to Spectrum News, this funding will be distributed across 19 HBCUs designated as 1890 Land-Grant Universities. The funds are specifically designated to advance a range of agricultural research projects at those universities.
“The work these universities will take on as a result of this funding have ripple effects far beyond the walls of their laboratories and classrooms,” Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small said in the USDA’s press release, adding that the move will benefit the agricultural industry as a whole. “Through this investment, the Biden-Harris Administration is helping deliver real-life, applicable solutions to make our food system stronger, while at the same time inspiring a next generation of students and scientists who will help us meet tomorrow’s agricultural challenges.”
This latest development follows a $262 million investment by the USDA in June 2023 aimed at creating the next generation of diverse leaders in agricultural professions.
The NEXTGEN program received its funding from the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. According to Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, the program represents the administration’s desire to create a more diverse agricultural field.
“We need to ensure our youth have the education and training they need to accelerate the development of an agricultural system that is climate-smart, sustainable, profitable and equitable,” said Vilsack. “This historic investment from the Biden-Harris Administration in our nation’s Minority-serving Institutions brings us closer to building a workforce that represents the richness and diversity of all the communities we serve.”
The USDA has been expanding its initiative, known as the 1890 Land-Grant Institutions National Program, for the past several years. The program, named for the institutions established through the Second Morrill Act of 1899, is designed to bolster agricultural research, education, extension programs, and the number of Black graduates in agricultural sciences.
Earlier this month, the USDA introduced a partnership, the USDA/1890 Scholars Program, aimed at producing more minority scholars of agriculture science. The program provides its scholars full tuition, employment and employment benefits, fees, and books, and pays for their room and board. Upon completion of the program, those scholars become eligible to receive a permanent position within the USDA once they have satisfied their college degree requirements.
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