During an event held Monday in East Point, Ga., Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined the Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, Cornelius Blanding, to sign an agreement signifying a continued partnership between USDA and the nonprofit organization.
The partnership aims to increase the number of minority landowners in the South and support them in sustainable forestry and agroforestry practices. Secretary Vilsack signed on behalf of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Forest Service and National Agroforestry Center. All have roles in implementing the agreement.
The agreement is designed to assist African American landowners and other underserved farmers, and ensure they have access to critical resources and information. It focuses on the key role that underserved landowners play in forest management, food production, conservation, wood energy, and climate mitigation.
“These efforts serve to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion in USDA programs and make sure people have fair access to all of our services and programs,” said Vilsack. “I want to thank the Federation of Southern Cooperatives for continuing to partner with USDA. This is a priority for us.”
“Through partnerships like this one, we are ensuring that historically underserved landowners and producers have the tools they need to successfully integrate conservation practices on their forest and agricultural lands,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “Equity in our programs and services is essential for addressing the unique natural resource needs and challenges across the country.”
More information on the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund can be found at federation.coop.