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Chairman David Scott Opening Statement at Hearing on 1890 Land Grant Institutions

WASHINGTON House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott delivered the following statement at today's hearing titled “1890 Land Grant Institutions: Investing for Agricultural Resiliency, Equity, and Global Impact.”

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning, and welcome to our Members, witnesses, and all of the people watching along at home.

Today’s hearing is one that is personal for me. As I sit here before you – the first African American Chairman of this esteemed Committee – I say with great pride that I am the product of an 1890 Land Grant institution. Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida was seminal in the story of how I went from growing up on a farm in Aynor, South Carolina to now being your Chairman.

But the story of the 1890 Land Grant institutions is not just mine to share. So many other members of this Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus, and leaders across our great nation share this experience of taking part in the excellence that is developed at these vital institutions. Today, we will hear parts of that story, along with work that still needs to be done to level the playing field for our 1890s institutions.

As many of you know, I – along with many other great leaders on this committee – worked very hard to get $80 million in funding for scholarships so that students pursuing careers related to food science and agriculture can attend our wonderful 1890 institutions. 

This funding is already helping but there is more work to be done. I fully intend, and am working on a bill right now, to make these scholarships permanent.  This is a much needed investment in the future of our food production.  Furthermore, investing in the 1890 Centers of Excellence is essential as they mold talented young minds for our food and agricultural sector, to ensure the success and prosperity of our smaller farmers and ranchers, and fighting hunger across the globe.

The American Rescue Plan included many provisions that will help make our world of agriculture more equitable, but one provision that I want to make everyone aware of is that a portion of the funds are to be used at 1890 Institutions to support agricultural research, education, and Extension. These Extension services at 1890 institutions serve a variety of agricultural needs in rural and socially disadvantaged communities.

The American Rescue Plan funding is also for scholarships and programs that provide internships and pathways to Federal employment.

I have been very clear that I want USDA to better represent Black farmers and farmers of color, and these pathways to Federal employment will be crucial to making lasting positive impacts on our entire agricultural sector.

Today, we have gathered an expert panel of 1890 Land Grant institution Presidents and one Chancellor-Dean, who I am sure will provide detailed testimony on where the House Agriculture Committee and our partners at USDA can make improvements, and where we have had shortfalls in the past. I welcome that. As I have said time and again, we must find the full scope of a problem before we work to solve it.

It is my hope that through the work we do here today and throughout this Congress, we can bring to the resources to our 1890 Land Grant institutions that they deserve and greatly need. 

With that, I’d now like to welcome the distinguished Ranking Member, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Thompson, for any opening remarks he would like to give.

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