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Vice Chair Adams Statement at Hearing on 1890 Land Grant Institutions

WASHINGTON – House Agriculture Committee Vice Chair Dr. Alma Adams of North Carolina delivered the following opening remarks before a hearing of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Wednesday on issues impacting the nation's 1890 Land Grant Institutions. 

[As Prepared for Delivery]

"I’m grateful for the strong leadership of the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee under Chairwoman Plaskett, and for your foresight in calling this critically important hearing on “1890 Land Grant Institutions – 130 Years of Building Equity in Agriculture. Participating in today’s hearing is special for me. Five years ago, when I first came to Congress, I had the honor of addressing the 1890s during an event celebrating their 125th anniversary. Today, we’ve come full circle.

"This Subcommittee has jurisdiction over matters related to “research, education, and extension;” issues that are central to the mission of this country’s land grant university system. That system, aimed at expanding postsecondary opportunities in agriculture, was established following the passage of the First Morrill Act of 1862. While these institutions advanced agriculture education and increased the capacity of our agriculture sector, Black students were barred from easily accessing these opportunities.

"So, twenty-eight years after the passage of the First Morrill Act, Congress passed the Second Morrill Act of 1890. This legislation prohibited racial discrimination in determining admission, leading to the creation of the 1890 land grant university system and expanding educational opportunities for Black students. Since that time, the 19 HBCUs that make up the 1890 system have continued their mission of advancing equity in agriculture through research, education, and extension aimed at serving racial minorities and historically underserved communities.

"In a year that has been marked by a surge of support for racial justice and a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted communities of color, I believe that the mission of the 1890 land grant system is more important as ever. That is why Congress and the Members of this Committee are committed in our support of the 1890 land grant system, as well as the students and rural communities it serves. This commitment is evident when looking back to the 2018 Farm Bill.

"Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Peterson and the strong advocacy of incoming Chairman Scott, myself, and other Members of this Committee, we were able to pass a strong, bipartisan farm bill that included mandatory funding for scholarships to 1890 institutions, established three centers of excellence to be led by 1890 universities, and corrected an inequity in the carryover of extension funds from year to year. I am proud that these provisions were included in the 2018 Farm Bill, but there is always more than can be done to support our students, researchers, and extension professionals.

"I’d like to take a moment to shine spotlight on the important work that those students and professionals are doing at my two-time alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University. In 2020, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at N.C. A&T reached $23 million in annual extramural research, with much of that research focusing on issues affecting small farmers and underserved communities across the state. Additionally, earlier this year, A&T received a grant from USDA to establish the Center of Excellence to Motivate and Educate for Achievement, dedicated to encouraging and supporting young people from underrepresented minority groups to pursue studies and careers in food, agriculture and natural resources. However, despite their decades of success in supporting small and minority farmers and conducting cutting-edge agricultural research, A&T faces many of the same challenges as the institutions before us today, including securing matching funds from our state legislature.

"I look forward to hearing testimony from our esteemed panel of witnesses on that issue and others, and I thank them in advance for taking the time to be with us this morning. I hope we get to hear your thoughts on the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill provisions, additional areas for collaboration between Congress and the 1890 system, and how your institutions have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic."

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