Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the 12 members of the newly established Equity Commission Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development (RCED), including Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA; and Curtis Wynn, CEO of SECO Energy, an electric co-op serving 200,000+ member-owners in Central Florida.
On April 7, 2022, USDA announced the call for nominations, and applications for membership to the RCED Subcommittee were accepted through May 6, 2022. Section 1006 of the American Rescue Plan directed USDA to create and fund the Equity Commission, signaling the beginning of the kinds of systemic, structural and cultural changes essential to advancing equity.
Following the thorough review of more than 500 application packages, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is appointing 12 individuals to serve on the USDA Equity Commission (EC) RCED Subcommittee. RCED Subcommittee members include representatives of community-based organizations, lending institutions, small business or cooperatives, tribal entities, and two members from the Equity Commission.
The new RCED subcommittee members are:
Cheryal Hills, Minnesota
David Carrasquillo-Medrano, Puerto Rico
Calvin Allen, North Carolina
Lakota Vogel, South Dakota
Valerie Beel, Nebraska
LaTonya Keaton, Illinois
Doug O’Brien, Maryland/Washington, DC
Curtis Wynn, Florida
Terry Rambler, Arizona
Larry Holland, Mississippi
Nils Christoffersen, Oregon
Shonterria Charleston, Georgia
“USDA is committed to ensuring that the underserved communities and populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of economic and environmental shocks are prioritized as we address systemic inequities and build back trust,” Secretary Vilsack said. “The diverse perspectives and expertise of the new RCED Subcommittee members will be critical to ensuring the Commission’s discussions and recommendations are balanced, insightful, and project the desired equity outcomes for everyone.”
“I am very excited to welcome this new RCED Subcommittee to join the work of the Equity Commission and Subcommittee on Agriculture,” said Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh, who serves as co-chair of the Equity Commission. “Overcoming the historic and systemic barrier that is the persistent poverty experienced by underserved rural communities is a charge that I feel personally connected to and believe will positively impact two-thirds of the 3,000+ counties in the United States.”
“It is an honor to be able to serve with such an excellent group of rural leaders,” said Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. “The work of the commission ensuring greater equity in USDA programs is crucial for all people in rural communities.”
The RCED Subcommittee will work with the Equity Commission and its Agriculture Subcommittee to provide recommendations to the Secretary that specifically address issues and concerns to rural development, persistent poverty and underserved communities. The newly appointed subcommittee members reflect diversity in demographics, regions of the country, background, and in experience and expertise. As part of the application and selection process, USDA sought members who can share the voice and experiences of farmers, ranchers, and farmworker groups, people of color, women, Tribal and Indigenous communities, individuals with disabilities, individuals with limited English proficiency, rural communities, and LGBTQI+ communities.
After onboarding, the RCED Subcommittee members will join the Equity Commission and its Agriculture Subcommittee at the commission’s third public meeting on September 21-22, 2022.
If there are issues that should be considered by the Equity Commission and its Subcommittees, all stakeholders, including the general public and congressional representatives, are encouraged to submit public comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.