RIPE is committed to recognizing and addressing agriculture’s history of marginalization and exclusion. We are creating equitable opportunities for diverse representation, inclusion and access within our organization and programs.
Our producer-led approach includes engaging diverse voices in our leadership groups, including the Board of Directors, Steering Committee, and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee.
We are also crafting the RIPE proposal to encourage equitable participation of socially disadvantaged, limited-resource and beginning producers. We are setting organizational goals and milestones to track our progress.
As we design our policy principles, we have the opportunity to ensure that we do not perpetuate the mistakes of the past. We are intentionally designing our recommendations to be inclusive and equitable and to provide opportunities for all farmers and ranchers. Our initial set of policy recommendations include:
- Equitable access to funds by all communities. Farmers and ranchers of all backgrounds will equally qualify for this program. To address historically underserved producers — including producers of color and limited-resource producers — funds will be allocated and payment rates increased to ensure their participation.
- Equitable access to funds by all farm sizes and types. Small and large farms alike will qualify for this program. To prevent discrimination of farms based on size, funds will be allocated to ensure participation by all farm sizes. Furthermore, the enrollment process will be simple and will not include a time-intensive application process, which is often a barrier of entry, especially for small producers. It also will not penalize early adopters, since prior adoption is not a qualifying criteria, as all farmers qualify.
- Targeted outreach to historically underserved producers. USDA will develop a producer outreach program targeting communities that have historically been underrepresented in USDA programs. This could be done by partnering with land grant university extension programs at historically Black colleges and universities.
- Regular guidance from the USDA Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers. Additional program elements will be guided by this existing committee of expert representatives.
We are proud that these recommendations were the basis for the equity component of the RIPE Partnership — the $80 million USDA pilot program we’re launching with over 20 partners. We look forward to seeing them in action and working with partners and pilot participants to perfect them as we work toward a national program.