Jun 02 2023
Bill Would Equip Next Generation of Farmers, Agriculture Workers with Workforce, Educational, and Research Training
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently joined five of her Senate colleagues to introduce the Community College Agriculture Advancement Act. The bipartisan bill would authorize funding for community college workforce training, education, and research programs in agriculture. U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) led the introduction of the legislation.
Many community colleges already offer training for the agricultural industry workforce, but community college agricultural programs have been excluded from federal funding opportunities. The Community College Agriculture Advancement Act would correct this flaw, ensuring that community colleges can access federal grants to bolster agricultural programs.
“Through their research into cutting-edge precision ag technologies or workforce development programs, community colleges are a vital part of Nebraska’s agricultural economy. Our legislation would ensure community colleges get the federal resources they deserve to expand their successful educational and workforce training initiatives in the community. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on more bipartisan opportunities within this year’s Farm Bill,” said Senator Fischer.
“Northeast is proud to offer agriculture programs that support and lift up rural America. In northeast Nebraska, agriculture accounts for nearly 50% of all employment and 46% of the gross regional product. It is critical that we continue to support such a vital industry in our region. Programs in precision agriculture and cybersecurity are just two areas that we have recently launched here at Northeast. Federal grant programs can provide much needed funding to support initiatives like these,” said Leah Barrett, Northeast Community College President.
“The members of the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) are dedicated to partnering with employers, producers and industry professionals to advance agricultural education, demonstration and training throughout the Midwest. This Farm Bill initiative would support the development of new middle skills workforce programming that is imperative to meeting our world’s growing food needs and sustaining our land and natural resources for future generations,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement Executive Director.
The Senators’ bill would amend the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 to allow community colleges to access grant money for agriculture programs. The bill would establish a competitive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant program in which the nation’s nearly 1,100 community colleges could apply for money to fund workforce training, education, research, and outreach programs in agriculture.
Specifically, a community college that receives a program grant could use the funding to:
- Successfully compete for funds from federal grants and other sources to carry out educational, research, and outreach activities.
- Disseminate information relating to agriculture, renewable resources, and other relevant communities.
- Encourage collaboration involving community colleges, land grant universities, and other higher education institutions.
- Purchase equipment and other infrastructure.
- Advance the professional growth and development of faculty.
- Develop apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.
In addition to Senators Fischer and Hickenlooper, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D- Minn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). U.S. Representatives Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) and Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.) led the introduction of companion legislation in the House.
For full text of the bill, click here. For a summary of the bill’s provisions, click here.