USDA Office of External & Intergovernmental Affairs Monthly Newsletter, April 2022
Good afternoon all,
My name is Liz Archuleta – I’m Director of the Office of External & Intergovernmental Affairs here at USDA. We are your conduit to and window into the Department of more than 100,000 employees serving the American people. Our office aims to keep you informed of all the transformational work going on at USDA and this newsletter is one way we’re doing that. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you’d like any additional information on any of the programs you see within this newsletter or to learn more about the work going on here at USDA.
Additionally, it’s our goal to serve as a resource for you. In order to do so, we rely on your feedback. Please send us your input at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director, USDA Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Deputy Director, USDA Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
Special Assistant, USDA Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs
General Inbox for Office of External & Intergovernmental Affairs: email@example.com
Upcoming EIA Events
EIA Monthly Update Call
Join EIA for our monthly call on Tuesday, May 10 to hear from experts implementing the groundbreaking and transformative programs coming out of USDA. If you haven’t joined us for a call before, please use this form to be added to our list and receive the invite when it is available | May Registration Link coming soon.
Roundtable on Precision Nutrition
Join USDA Research, Education and Economics (REE) and Food and Nutrition Consumer Services (FNCS) for a roundtable discussion on precision nutrition as a part of the White House Community Conversations on the Cancer Moonshot. The conversation will take place on Wednesday, May 4 from 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET. | Register Here
Second Public Meeting of the Equity Commission and its Agriculture Subcommittee
USDA Equity Commission and Equity Action Plan Updates
Equity Commission & Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development (RCED)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will establish a Rural Community Economic Development (RCED) Subcommittee as part of the recently launched Equity Commission. Nominations and applications for membership to the RCED Subcommittee are due May 6. The Federal Register Notice is another important step towards fully implementing President Biden’s commitment to create an Equity Commission and the American Rescue Plan Act provision that directs USDA to “address historical discrimination and disparities in the agriculture sector… [through] one or more equity commissions to address racial equity issues within USDA and its programs.”
This new RCED Subcommittee will be charged with providing recommendations on issues and concerns related to rural development, persistent poverty, and underserved communities. The Equity Commission will deliver an interim report and provide actionable recommendations by September 2022. A final report will be generated by the summer of 2023.
President Biden signed an Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government and committed to creating an Equity Commission as part of his rural agenda and commitment to closing the racial wealth gap and addressing longstanding inequities in agriculture. Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan directed USDA to create the Equity Commission and funded the effort along with an additional $1 billion in funding to support forward-looking activities that will advance equity and opportunity for historically underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. The funding will be used to remove gaps that currently exist in USDA program benefits, improve access to resources, and restore trust and confidence in the Department for groups that have not had equal access to such resources through a combination of grants, loans, pilot programs, technical assistance, cooperative agreements, and more.
USDA Equity Action Plan
In support of Executive Order 13985 Advancing Racial Equity and Support to Underserved Communities, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) made its Equity Action Plan publicly available. The plan outlines actions USDA will take to advance programmatic equity to improve access to programs and services for underserved stakeholders and communities.
All too often in the past, USDA programs and services were designed to benefit those with land, experience, money, and education while leaving behind those without means, resources or privilege of one kind or another. Over the course of decades, congressional reports, internal data, civil rights investigations, court actions, and stakeholder testimony have documented this long history of inequity and discrimination.
At the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA took swift actions to analyze data, consider a wide range of diverse stakeholder input, and prioritize activities that are immediately responsive to the urgent needs of those who have historically had difficulty understanding or accessing USDA’s programs and services.
To craft this Equity Action Plan, USDA first assessed and identified key challenges and opportunities through analysis of data and robust stakeholder engagement. Concurrently, USDA convened staff and leaders across USDA components to learn together and evaluate systems, practices, and policies that hinder progress. USDA Mission Areas and staff offices have identified challenges and opportunities of particular focus. The USDA Equity Action Plan highlights a set of actions USDA will take to advance equity; these particular actions are highlighted in the plan because of their potential high impact for underserved farmers and ranchers, families and children, and rural communities. Below is a summary:
- Partner with trusted technical assistance providers
- Reduce barriers to USDA programs and improve support to underserved farmers, ranchers, landowners, and farmworkers
- Expand equitable access to USDA nutrition assistance programs
- Increase USDA infrastructure investments that benefit underserved communities
- Advance equity in federal procurement
- Uphold Federal trust and treaty Responsibilities to Indian Tribes
- Institutionalize an unwavering commitment to and actions towards ensuring civil rights
Key USDA Staff Announcements
- Emily Cole – Connecticut FSA State Executive Director
- John Patterson – Ohio FSA State Executive Director
- Gail Greenman – Oregon FSA State Executive Director
- Kelly Adkins – Texas FSA State Executive Director
- Eric Scherer – Rhode Island FSA State Executive Director
- Thomas Carew – Kentucky RD State Director
- Michele Weaver – Utah RD State Director
- Jill Floyd – Arkansas RD State Director
April 18, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments
- Mary Beth Schultz – Deputy General Counsel
- Dr. Dionne Toombs – Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- Ny Whitaker – Director of Scheduling and Advance, Office of the Secretary
- Leslie Weldon – Acting Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Office of the Secretary
- Deborah Swerdlow – Chief of Staff for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS)
- Alberto Gonzalez – Senior Advisor for External Engagement, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
- Alison Hard – Senior Policy Advisor, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
- Jerry Chapin – Senior Counselor, Office of the General Counsel