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Posts tagged: Diversity

Hearing First-Hand How Diversity Matters

USDA is committed to bringing everyone to the table—people and organizations of different background, perspectives and opinions. Hear first-hand how important diversity is to rural America. (Click to play video)

USDA is committed to bringing everyone to the table—people and organizations of different background, perspectives and opinions. Hear first-hand how important diversity is to rural America. (Click to play video)

The men and women who own and operate our country’s farms and ranches are increasingly diverse. In fact, according to USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture, all categories of minority-operated farms increased between 2007 and 2012.  The number of farms operated by Hispanics has increased by 21 percent in just five years.

My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), oversees all 22 industry-funded commodity research and promotion (R&P) programs.  Led by industry board members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, these programs provide a framework for farmers and businesses to pool resources, set common goals and make collective decisions about how to best develop new markets, strengthen current markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. Read more »

Representing the Faces of Agriculture through Research and Promotion Board Diversity

At AMS, we are committed to ensuring that all research and promotion boards are as diverse as the members they serve. Photo courtesy of National Black Growers Council.

At AMS, we are committed to ensuring that all research and promotion boards are as diverse as the members they serve. Photo courtesy of National Black Growers Council.

U.S. agriculture is increasingly diverse, with farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors, vendors, and more from various backgrounds.  Just like their products, the operations and the men and women that run them are diverse – in gender, race, age, size, and production practices.  At USDA, we are committed to supporting all of American agriculture with our programs and services.

My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is in a unique position to encourage and promote diversity, particularly when it comes to industry leadership.  AMS oversees 22 industry-funded research and promotion programs that allow farmers and businesses to pool resources, set common goals, and make collective decisions about how to best develop new markets, strengthen current markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities covering a wide variety of topics from nutrition to sustainability.  These programs, which create opportunities for farms and businesses across the country, are led by industry board members appointed by the Secretary.  AMS has been working hard to ensure that research and promotion boards reflect the full diversity of American agriculture.  We know that the programs are stronger when the boards represent the diversity of the industries they represent and the consumers they serve. Read more »

Diversity of Thought Brings Success

At the first ever "Opportunities for Diversity" event, AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (at the podium) was joined by Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (first seat) and several members of the commodity Research and promotion boards. The event discussed the changing face of agriculture and the importance of including members from all schools of thought, backgrounds and culture.

At the first ever "Opportunities for Diversity" event, AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo (at the podium) was joined by Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden (first seat) and several members of the commodity Research and promotion boards. The event discussed the changing face of agriculture and the importance of including members from all schools of thought, backgrounds and culture.

The face of agriculture is changing.  The changes are reflected in the Ag Census data released last week, in the rural communities we serve, and in the way the Department is looking toward the future.  With a 12 percent increase in minority farm operators and a 21 percent increase in Hispanic farm operators since 2007, it’s clear that the agricultural landscape is changing. And it is vital that industry leadership evolves, too.

My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), oversees more than 20 Federal Research and Promotion (R&P) boards, whose members are appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.  These boards serve a variety of commodity industries, focusing on nutrition, research, marketing and consumer outreach.  By helping develop new markets and strengthening existing ones, they create opportunities for farms and businesses across the country. Read more »

Forest Service Reaches Latinos through Legacy Program

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

More than 1,500 inner-city youth from Houston Independent School District gather over a week-long period at Jones State Forest – Children’s Forest each year to participate in the annual Exploring Houston’s Backyard. The Bosque Móvil-Forest Mobile is one tool the U.S. Forest Service’s Latino Legacy program uses to provide learning experience around Texas.

Roughly a decade ago, Tamberly Conway impulsively agreed to leave Key West, Fla., with a friend to serve as crew members on a 47-foot sailboat with a captain they barely knew. But somewhere between Key West and Guatemala, she began reevaluating her decision.

They got off the boat in Guatemala and spent the next year absorbing the Latino culture and Spanish language. She turned that unexpected experience into helping the U.S. Forest Service reach out to the Latino community. Along with her multiple degrees in natural resources, Conway connects Latinos to the natural world around them through such programs as Latino Legacy. Read more »

Diversity Program Students Share Their Views From the USDA Outlook Forum

Last week, 22 college students were given the opportunity to attend the USDA Outlook Forum to learn about agribusiness, the latest research, future trends, and policy in contemporary agriculture. The students were part of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Diversity Program, which was launched by the Office of the Chief Economist and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2007 to help provide students with a unique insight into their agricultural studies. These students represent the diversity of American agriculture.

While at the forum, the students had the opportunity to hear from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other leaders in the agricultural industry who were able to give them a unique opportunity to interact with industry professionals – something that can’t always be gained in the classroom.

Comments from the students about their experience proved just how useful this program is to their college experience and career development:

“The USDA Outlook Forum Diversity Program presents a great opportunity for students to meet important people in the industry of agriculture.  The speakers presented great points of where agriculture is headed in this country from the points of view from professionals in the agriculture industry which is valuable advice for students.  I enjoyed listening to Ambassador [Ronald] Kirk and Secretary Vilsack’s presentations and all of the opportunities presented to us.  It was also great to meet other agriculture students from across the country.”

“[I liked the] fact that there were speakers who challenged the USDA or brought up controversial issues, and that this wasn’t a means to stir tensions but rather to engage open discussions.  I liked that I could intelligently speak about these topics with my peers who share similar interests.”

“I’ve gained knowledge of a lot of things that I’ve overlooked in the past.  I see now how everything is linked and how important it is to preserve our agriculture, so from a 1 to 10, I would have to give this experience a 100.”

Additionally, the students’ time at the Forum gave them a look at what a future career in agriculture might look like and what road they need to take to work toward their career aspirations.

“I was surprised at how much I took from it, particularly outside of the information I got from the sessions.  I was able to talk to representatives of the various agencies at USDA and really get a better feel for what they did and the qualifications needed to get where I want to go.”.

The students are from land-grant universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and American Association of State Colleges of Agriculture and Renewable Resources institutions. This year, sponsoring corporations and USDA agencies include: CHS, Inc.; the Farm Credit System; and USDA’s Economic Research Service. This year’s sponsorship of 22 students is the highest level of participation since the program’s inception.

Student participants of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Diversity Program meet with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the 2010 USDA Outlook Forum.

Student participants of USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum Diversity Program meet with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the 2010 USDA Outlook Forum.