1890’s Land Grant University system is important to ag’s future

It is rare we hear members of Congress agreeing on anything these days, but House Ag Committee members showed a bipartisan spirit as they heard from 1890’s Land Grant Universities.

The 1890’s Land Grant University system was founded to support ag education at historically black universities. Chairman David Scott says that they are an important tool for the future of the industry.

According to Scott, “We’ve got to rebuild this great infrastructure of African Americans farming. Agriculture, this is our heritage. We only have 1 percent of the farmland...”

This week, he plans to introduce legislation to make the 1890’s scholarship program, which was included in the 2018 Farm Bill, permanent.

“Now, once that is there and we will be making that scholarship program permanent, and that means it will come out to what we call baseline, which it will be automatically turned over each appropriations cycle without having to go back and forth,” Scott states.

Dr. Paul Jones, President of Fort Valley State University, told lawmakers the scholarship helps students gain an education without burdensome student loans and called for more funding to help keep costs low.

“I think that we have to continue to do everything we can to invest, also, in these institutions so that we can keep our costs down. When that doesn’t happen, that’s where we are sometimes pushed to-- if you divest in us, if you will, then it forces those institutions to have to increase costs,” Dr. Jones explains.

He also emphasized the importance of research and staffing that can provide technical assistance to farmers.

“We are now in over 35 counties throughout Georgia providing support, co-located with Extension agents with the University of Georgia. That’s powerful work those great partnerships,” he adds. “We want to continue that work and expand on that word, so that kind of support from the state is vital to supporting our community.”

Other witnesses shared their support for historically black college funding, including the President’s proposed budget, as well as Congresswoman Alma Adam’s “Ignite HBCU Excellence” legislation.


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