USDA In Case You Missed It – #USDAResults: A New Era for Civil Rights at USDA

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Office of Communications In Case You Missed It

Geneva Wright, Kashawn Burke, Gabrielle Parker, Kimberly Lopez, Jacob Jensen, Andres Parra, Spencer Orr, and Lorena Rivera

At the start of this Administration, USDA had a reputation marred by decades of systemic discrimination.

Today, we can say we’ve brought about real change. In fact, USDA recently became the Federal Agency of the Year, awarded by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in recognition of the improvements made since the start of the Obama Administration.

In nearly eight years, we have made it possible for more Americans to get involved in farming and ranching through major improvements to farm loans. The results in 2015 speak for themselves—the Farm Service Agency has helped nearly 10,000 farmers in 2015 alone, of which 72 percent are considered socially disadvantaged or beginning — a record number compared to prior years. And between 2007 and 2012, the United States saw a 12 percent increase in the number of black farmers and a 21 percent increase in Hispanic farmers.

To ensure fair representation in the communities we serve, we made meaningful modifications to the County Committee structure, annually reviewing local administrative boundaries to make sure minority communities are adequately represented. When statistical analysis demonstrated a persistent lack of diversity in some County Committees, Secretary Vilsack was the first Agriculture Secretary to use authority granted under the 2002 Farm Bill to appoint voting members to over 385 committees, addressing underrepresentation of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. As a result, when someone applies for a loan today, they can be more confident knowing the individuals reviewing the applications reflect the diversity of the constituency they serve.

You can hear directly from LULAC National Director Brent Wilkes on our joint efforts with his organization to support and empower Hispanic communities across the United States over the past 8 years.

Join us throughout the month of August as we tell the important story of eight years of progress toward a more equal and inclusive USDA. Follow along on usda.gov, on the USDA blog and by using #USDAResults, or catch up on Chapter VIII on our Medium site.

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The week in pictures

Maykia Xiong and her family

Throughout the month you can join us as we tell the important story of eight years of progress toward a more equal and inclusive USDA.