Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intends to appoint “socially disadvantaged farmers” to voting memberships on county committees — the local farmer panels that serve as a direct link between the farm community and the USDA.
Right now, all 7,700 county committee members – representing 2,244 county jurisdictions – are elected by other farmers. The USDA now plans to appoint extra members on some committees for the sake of diversity.
“As we continue to build a USDA that is responsive to the needs of an evolving, 21st century agricultural economy, we must ensure a strong and sustainable future for these important committees,” Vilsack said. “Appointing new voting members to committees that lack (socially disadvantaged) representation will help ensure that county committees continue to play a vital and relevant role in delivering important federal farm programs to citizens of rural communities across our nation.”