I am grateful for the important work of state government to ensure our programs and services can benefit every community of concern. COVID-19 has starkly demonstrated disproportionate impacts to vulnerable populations, which makes Governor Newsom’s commitment to diversity and racial equity in his California For All initiative even more important.
At CDFA we understand that we must bring an equity lens to all aspects of our work for the benefit of our employees and our agency, as well as the people and communities we serve. We can be most successful when we all work together and ensure that all voices and perspectives are included – it makes us better.
Our commitment to diversity includes working to provide all California farmers with access to the agency’s many programs. CDFA has hired a Farm Equity Adviser to make sure that historically underserved farmers and ranchers are reached.
The agency is working to further change by prioritizing recommendations contained within the Farmer Equity Report, and by recognizing and acknowledging the historic contributions of people of color to agriculture and food systems.
We are prioritizing recommendations to increase the voices of farmers of color in decision-making processes, programs, boards and commissions; creating a task force of CDFA employees who will work with the CCORE (Capitol Cohort on Racial Equity) group to create a racial equity action plan; and providing educational and training opportunities for all staff: CDFA will offer implicit bias training for all CDFA staff and research other potential training opportunities that could be offered to all staff.
CDFA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the organization MANRRS—Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences—as a pilot program with the NASDA Foundation (National Association of State Departments of Agriculture). MANRRS is a national organization of young people from communities of color who are interested in food, agriculture, and resource-based careers. Our work with them will enhance the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of our recruitment programs as we seek to strengthen the resiliency of our state’s agriculture industry and move us closer to a California for All.
I’d also like to point out that The California State Board of Food and Agriculture recently led a discussion with academic leaders, non-profits, and education programs focused on strategies to bolster agricultural education program outreach, and engagement and communication with socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
This is among the most important work our agency is undertaking. I am grateful to be a part of it and honored to be doing this work with such diverse and dedicated CDFA employees.