It’s time to compensate 1890 universities for decades of unfair funding

In 1862, during the Civil War, Congress passed the Land-Grant Agricultural and Mechanical College Act of 1862 (a.k.a. the Morrill Act of 1862). This legislation extended educational opportunities for many White working-class Americans. But it did little to extend education to Black people. The Morrill Act of 1890 passed 28 years later created new land grant institutions to address the issue of Black peoples’ access to higher education. But racial inequities between the two land-grant systems have persisted into the present day. And as noted in The Century Foundation’s (TCF’s) paper, “Nourishing the Nation While Starving; The Underfunding of Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities,” even though the 1890 universities have many proud accomplishments, the cumulative damage from unequal treatment between the 1862 and 1890 universities is significant.

DOE, USDA, MEP release info on new funding opportunities, awards

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) have all made recent announcements on new funding provided either through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or the CHIPS and Science Act. DoE is accepting applications for an $80 million program focused on benefiting small and medium-sized manufacturing firms. USDA and MEP announced more than 170 awards to expand innovative uses of wood and to address supply chain issues.

USDA invests $981M to build rural economy

In an effort to help rural citizens retain their resources and wealth, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the investment of $981 million to help create new and better market opportunities  expanding essential services for rural people, businesses and entrepreneurs in 47 states, Guam and the Virgin Islands.  USDA is making 242 awards through eight programs specifically designed to create economic opportunity; the Biofuel Producer Relief Payments Program , Business and Industry (B&I) Loan GuaranteesCommunity Facilities Guaranteed Loan ProgramRural Cooperative Development Grant Program, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant ProgramRural Innovation Stronger Economy Grants program, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees.

USDA announces $1.4 billion in awards for rural development

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a $1.4 billion investment into rural areas of the U.S. for job training, business development, and technical assistance. These investments are granted through eight different programs to 751 awardees across 49 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. USDA estimates that the grants and loans provided by these awards will create or save at least 50,000 jobs in the rural United States.

USDA seeking input on agricultural innovations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is seeking comments and suggestions on objectives and opportunities leading to research goals and informed product goals to facilitate transformative breakthroughs that would help the department increase agricultural production by 40 percent by 2050 while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half.

USDA announces new Agriculture Innovation Agenda

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently announced a new Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA) to accelerate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.

Planning underway to increase energy technology development in rural areas

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have announced an agreement between them to promote rural energy and the development of technologies “that will support and advance rural and agricultural communities and domestic manufacturing.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was required under the 2018 Farm Bill, is expected to increase the economic development of rural areas through new energy technologies and investments.

Four takeaways: USDA plans to move 500+ scientists to the KC Metro

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced plans to relocate nearly 550 USDA scientist positions from the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to the Kansas City metropolitan area. Originally announced in August 2018, the planned relocation of scientists within the USDA Economic Research Service, a statistical agency, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, has gained widespread attention. The scientists involved are arguing that the move is political: that their research is so important to setting policy that they should be in the Beltway. On the other hand, proponents of the decision argue that the move will cut costs and bring the scientists closer to stakeholders in the nation’s agricultural heartland. Here are four takeaways about the proposed move.

New Farm Bill programs aim to cultivate rural innovation

The latest Farm Bill, expected to be signed into law Thursday, contains provisions that could provide significant new tools for rural innovations. The two greatest opportunities are the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, which creates an innovation cluster and strategy program for rural regions, and a change to allow the existing Community Facilities program to support incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers.

USDA plans to restructure, relocate research units

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue made an announcement in early August affecting two research units: Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. ERS will revert to part of the Office of the Chief Economist, and both units will be relocating outside of Washington, D.C. by the end of 2019. While plans to move NIFA from its current building have been anticipated, the relocation of both offices outside of the District had not been previously made known, even to staff. Placing ERS into a political office and moving the units outside of the main employment zone for public economists has raised concerns, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, that the moves may be aimed at sidelining and reducing USDA research overall. Perdue’s statement framed the effort as best for customers and taxpayers. The Department is currently seeking expressions of interest from regions interested in hosting the relocated units.


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