New Federal Program to Foster Diversity in Agriculture Fields

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in June the creation of a new $262.5 million program that will help build the next generation of diverse agricultural professionals through investment in Minority-Serving Institutions.

The initiative is called From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program (NextGen). NextGen will provide training and support to more than 20,000 future food and agricultural leaders, with 33 project partners.

Goals include lowering food costs for American families, expanding access to markets to producers from all backgrounds and communities, building a clean energy economy, and strengthening supply chains. To accomplish these objectives, the program aims to enhance educational support, further experiential learning, and expose students to early career opportunities. 

Institutions eligible for NextGen funds include 1890 land-grant universities (historically Black universities), 1994 tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and higher education institutions located in the insular areas and their partners.

“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,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “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.”

This article was published in our September 2023 issue.