Secretary Vilsack Grilled by Lawmakers About Funding, Support for 1890 HBCUs
From the States Newsroom ….
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack faced questions on how his agency is doling out emergency pandemic aid and fostering collaboration with historically Black colleges during a recent hearing before the House Agriculture Committee (watch the full hearing above).
Committee Chairman David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, asked Vilsack for “critical updates on the implementation of pandemic relief programs, including the American Rescue Plan, and the status of disaster assistance.”
Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa who also served as agriculture secretary during the Obama administration, said the Department of Agriculture is currently working to distribute money provided by the American Rescue Plan to farmers who have suffered during the pandemic.
Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) pressed Vilsack on USDA’s commitment to fund and work with historically Black Land Grant Universities.
“Rural communities continue to face challenges that need to be addressed to achieve growth,” she said.
Adams said that 1890 Land Grant Universities play an important role in teaching, reaching out to those rural communities and conducting research in agriculture science. She asked if USDA could better partner with those institutions.
Vilsack said he recently had a meeting with the 1890 Council of Presidents representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“First order of business is to make sure there is an understanding in the HBCUs of the extraordinary scope of the programs that we have at USDA and to encourage grater collaboration,” he said.
Vilsack said that USDA allocated $21.8 million to HBCUs to fund 58 projects “to expand their reach into the community.” He said that USDA also awarded $12 million to Hispanic Serving Institutions.