Nominee would build ‘civil rights culture’ at USDA

Declaring "there is no place at USDA for discrimination," University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger told senators on Wednesday that she would build "a civil rights culture" at the USDA if confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights. At the same confirmation hearing, Chavonda Jacobs-Young said she would be an advocate for advanced technology, such as gene editing, if confirmed as undersecretary for research.

Booker backs a food box program for fruits and vegetables

Sen. Cory Booker, the new chairman of the Senate nutrition subcommittee called for a permanent food box program to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to communities "in desperate need for healthy produce." Booker also said $20 billion a year should be devoted to USDA climate mitigation programs and that a moratorium should be imposed on mergers in the agricultural sector.(No paywall)

House Ag chairman: Use tax code to encourage purchases from Black farmers

Black farmers "don't have access to the same markets our white farmers have," said House Agriculture chairman David Scott, but the tax code could put them on equal footing. Scott is working on legislation to offer tax incentives to processors and other companies if they buy crops and livestock from Black producers.

Equity commission will root out systemic racism in USDA programs, says Vilsack

At the same time USDA announced its first-ever senior adviser for racial equity, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday that an equity commission would “identify and root out any systemic racism that may exist” in USDA programs. Vilsack also said he wanted to use $13 …