IDRA Evaluation of USDA Program to Cultivate Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals

usda-logo-colorThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July 2023 launched an innovative program to train a diverse group of future agricultural professionals. This program, funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, seeks to lower costs, expand market access, and strengthen American supply chains while fostering a clean energy economy.

IDRA will serve as the meta-evaluator to monitor and report on the benefits and impact of the program “NextGen.” We will work with the 33 grantees in multiple states and territories to help tell their stories of impact. IDRA will aggregate the outputs of the individual projects to measure the collective outcomes and impact of the projects’ implementation.

investing-in-america-logo-markThe program, titled “From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals,” invests $262.5 million in higher education institutions across the nation. Its goal is to provide training and support to over 20,000 individuals pursuing careers in food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences.

By collaborating with institutions, such as 1890 land-grant universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities, the program offers educational support, experiential learning opportunities, and exposure to early career pathways. It aims to prepare the next generation of professionals to develop climate-smart, sustainable, and equitable agricultural systems.

The USDA’s commitment to equity and diversity is reflected in this program’s efforts to address underrepresented communities and remove barriers to inclusion. By providing training and resources, the program aims to create a workforce that represents the richness and diversity of all communities.

Questions can be directed to Joanna D. Sánchez, Ph.D., ( IDRA Senior Policy Researcher and director of this evaluation project.