U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Highlights Key Work in 2021 to Advance Equity – EIN News – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2022 – Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued the following statement highlighting key steps the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken to advance equity under the Biden-Harris Administration. Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA has taken bold, historic action toward rooting out generations of systemic racism, deeply integrating equity in decision-making and policymaking inclusive of all USDA employees and customers.

“During the first year of the Biden-Harris Administration, this Department has made historic strides in how, and who, we serve,” said Vilsack. “It is a priority for USDA to ensure that all can benefit from our programs and services, and I am proud of the work this Department has done, and will continue to do, to meet the needs of the agriculture community.”

Key USDA accomplishments during 2021 include:

  • Ensuring Pandemic Assistance benefits all of agriculture: Under the previous administration’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), only 4% of funding went to historically underserved farmers and ranchers (among those who identified their race and/or ethnicity). After identifying gaps in previous COVID-19 relief funding, USDA announced ‘Pandemic Assistance for Producers’ to distribute resources more equitably and committed to directing at least $6 billion to the agricultural producers and sectors that needed assistance most via the newly-established initiative. Among other funding opportunities, the Pandemic Assistance Initiative includes re-opening signup for CFAP2, $700 million in grants to provide relief to farm and food workers affected by COVID-19, $700 million to provide relief for small producers, processors, farmers markets and seafood vessels affected by COVID-19, and $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to historically underserved farmers and ranchers. As a result, there was a fourfold increase in participation among historic

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