U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden and Congresswoman Gwen Graham Hosted a Diversity in Agriculture Roundtable at Florida A&M University
With over 150 people in attendance, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden and Congresswoman Gwen Graham hosted a Diversity in Agriculture Roundtable at Florida A&M University. There were four farmers on the panel that discussed issues and concerns facing the future of agriculture. It was announced at the meeting that North Florida has been added to the USDA’s StrikeForce Program. The program addresses rural areas in the U.S. that have persistent poverty and have intense need for help that the USDA can directly address. Harden said it’s a concentrated, focused way to leverage federal dollars through USDA programs for rural communities that need special help and care. We spoke with Harden after the meeting to get her take on this breakthrough for North Florida’s rural agricultural communities.
As the average age of the American farmer continues to rise, we have no time to lose in getting more new farmers and ranchers established. Equally important is encouraging young people to pursue careers in industries that support American agriculture. According to an employment outlook report [ https://www.purdue.edu/usda/employment/ ] released by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, one of the best fields for new college graduates is agriculture. Nearly 60,000 high-skilled agriculture job openings are expected annually in the United States for the next five years, yet only 35,000 graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture related fields are expected to be available to fill them. The report also shows that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates in the United States. USDA recently released a factsheet showcasing the impact of women on agriculture in Florida.