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Latino Daily News

Monday March 28, 2011

USDA Creates Minority Farmer Advisory Committee

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced the appointment of members to the Minority Farmer Advisory Committee to advise him on implementation of outreach and assistance efforts to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. The advisory committee also will promote the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs and support civil rights activities with USDA, the Department said.

Appointment of the committee is authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ushering in a new era of civil rights at USDA,” said Vilsack. “This advisory committee will provide guidance that will ensure that all eligible applicants for our programs are served in an equal and fair manner and will enable USDA to enhance opportunities for minority farmers and ranchers.”

Members of the committee are appointed for two year terms. The nominees include socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations that work with minority farmers and ranchers; civil rights professionals; representatives from institutions of higher learning; and other persons the Secretary deems appropriate, the release stated.  Some of the Latinos on the committee are Omar Garza, (U.S. Mexico Border Coalition), Paula Garcia (New Mexico Acequia Association), Richard Molinar (University of California) and Baldemar Velasquez (Farm Labor Organizing Committee).

Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA is addressing civil rights concerns that go back decades, and the announcement of the appointment of an advisory committee is another step towards achieving that goal, USDA said.