Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives
The NASDA Foundation believes that diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental principles of a sustainable agricultural community and necessary to advance the agricultural industry in the United States. We have a strong commitment to inclusion, outreach and engagement to embrace diversity within the agriculture sector.
Agriculture Policy Summit
In August 2020, the National Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS), National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the NASDA Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), embarking on a five-year partnership to grow diversity in agricultural government affairs and agriculture industry leaders. The MOU details plans to increase minority college students’ exposure to employment, educational and business opportunities through state departments of agriculture.
Entering year five of the partnership, the NASDA Foundation continues to build on the Agriculture Policy Summit which was piloted with 10 MANRRS students at the 2020 NASDA Winter Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. Since its inception, over 60 students have gone through the program. In 2022 the NASDA Foundation took this commitment one step forward and awarded all 20 Agriculture Policy Summit students with a $1,000 Workforce Development scholarship. The goal of the Workforce Development scholarship is to aid students with the up-front costs that can arise with accepting an internship or job in the agriculture industry. Since then, the NASDA Foundation has awarded $37,000 in scholarships to date.
In 2019 the NASDA Foundation worked with a team of partners in Oregon and Washington to develop the core curriculum for the Farm2Food Accelerator, a training program originally built to help small-scale, women, specialty crop farmers refine their food and beverage products, target their marketing, and explore expanding into new markets.
As of 2023, the program has been offered in five states, two languages (English & Spanish) and has graduated over 100 women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) participants.
Removing Barries to USDA GAP Programs
The NASDA Foundation partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to garner more participation in USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Programs. Beginning in 2019, researchers at Michigan State University entered into a cooperative agreement with USDA AMS to explore “buyer acceptance” to GAP and identified barriers encountered by growers, educators, buyers, auditors, and other technical assistance providers to the USDA GAP programs. The findings from that project served as the starting point for the NASDA Foundation to create toolkits to address and clarify those known barriers. The Grower and Stakeholder toolkits were developed as resources for growers and our partners. The Grower toolkit will aid growers in determining their GAP needs, provides important contacts, and highlights available training and mentoring resources available. The toolkits are to be implemented via education and outreach to socially disadvantaged and underserved growers.