As a public servant and agricultural leader, I am committed to feeding equality.
If you're wondering, why the Secretary of Agriculture? Well, simply put, racism affects us all, including agriculture, and it has for centuries. We cannot be silent any longer, we cannot stand by. Now is the time for agriculture to do what agriculture does best: to band together, to do it in support of and solidarity with our black neighbors.
A hundred years ago, in 1920, African Americans owned one out of every seven farms in the United States. Today, less than two percent of American farmers are black. How did this happen?
For decades, black farmers' desire to farm have been suppressed institutionally even to the point of being denied loans through the USDA – loans that they needed to access the industry, to plant seeds for success.
We're all created equally, but it's clear we're not all treated as such.
We are living in a time where everyone wants and needs equal access to food. How can we ensure equality of food access without acknowledging that racism is present in agriculture and addressing it head on?
We need to make more opportunities available in agriculture for people of color, who deserve the same access, without barriers, to this economic powerhouse. I'm committing our department to confronting the injustices of racism that hold so many in the black community back from fulfilling their dreams of being part of our industry. We will not remain silent.
Black lives matter.
I know this can be an uncomfortable conversation for some, because we have to confront history, which is never easy.
I believe there is much more we must do. As a nation, state, and industry, our strength is in our diversity. To truly honor diversity, I will be more intentional to make the industry more diverse, equitable and accessible. I will work even harder to extinguish barriers and the fires of injustice.
I will listen and I will advocate.