A $1 million investment from USDA will go toward three new Centers of Excellence developed in partnership with 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday.
Vilsack made the announcement during an event commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act becoming law, creating the 1890 Land-Grant Universities.
"When Congress passed the act in 1890 creating additional Land-Grant Universities, they were creating access to economic mobility through educational opportunity for all. These schools have been instrumental in growing our nation into a multicultural economic power," Vilsack said. "The three new Centers of Excellence will build on this legacy of cooperation and success to help sustain our nation for the next 125 years and beyond."
These three new centers will serve as a consortium to increase coordination and collaboration between USDA and the 1890s schools. Each center will focus on a specific identified need:
• Creating an integrated center to benefit Small Farms, Ranches and Forest Landowners in high poverty areas;
• Establishing a virtual center to support the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics pipeline of students and address the growing need for talented career candidates to meet future workforce needs; and
• Satisfying the nation's need in the areas of international engagement and global food security to increase international cooperation, trade and development.
Secretary Vilsack said USDA would provide additional related funding through existing programs and agreements, and that the initial funding will help the 1890s schools improve their access to USDA programs and attract additional outside investment.