Last week, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and the Office of Human Resources and Management hosted the USDA-Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
The USDA-AAPI Roundtable brought together over 70 participants, including over 35 AAPI community organizations and leaders, 6 Congressional offices, 5 AAPI business leaders and chambers of commerce, 3 media outlets, various academicians and 25 USDA officials. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu opened the event applauding USDA’s efforts to establish partnerships between Congress and USDA to better increase AAPI outreach. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made introductory remarks discussing the need for diversity at USDA and the developments at USDA to address greater outreach to AAPI communities. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack provided keynote remarks highlighting USDA’s plan to increase diversity efforts to better reflect the face of America through the implementation of the USDA Cultural Transformation Initiative.
The USDA-AAPI Roundtable included USDA presentations on issues ranging from the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders, Rural Development, Farm Loans and Programs, Higher Education and the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, Workforce Diversity, Procurement, and Food and Nutrition.
Participants traveled as far as California and Minnesota to attend the Roundtable to share stories of the existing needs that AAPI populations are faced with around the country, including Hmong poultry farms, access to USDA loans and grants, and food and nutrition initiatives for low-income minority communities. USDA looks forward to the September 20 USDA-AAPI roundtable as the first in a series of roundtables to better connect AAPI community leaders, organizations, and members with USDA programs, opportunities, and services, in line with Secretary Vilsack’s priority mission of cultural transformation at USDA.