Ag Policy Blog

USDA Names Advisers for Racial Equity, Fair and Competitive Markets

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
The Biden administration on Monday announced that Dewayne Goldmon has been appointed senior adviser for racial equity to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and that Andy Green has been appointed Vilsack's senior adviser for fair and competitive markets. (Photos courtesy of the National Black Growers Council and Center for American Progress)

The Biden administration on Monday announced that Dewayne Goldmon has been appointed senior adviser for racial equity to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and that Andy Green has been appointed Vilsack's senior adviser for fair and competitive markets.

Goldmon has served for the past year as executive director of the National Black Growers Council (NBGC), a Washington-based organization that advocates to improve the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers. He is also a farmer in southeast Arkansas and helped form the NGBC.

“We need to accelerate a transformation of our food system, and that begins with embracing a call for racial justice and equity across food, agriculture and rural America,” Vilsack said in a news release.

“With Dewayne's guidance, we will build a USDA that represents and serves all Americans — a USDA that is committed to ensuring equity across the Department, removing barriers to access and rooting out systemic discrimination, and building a workforce that reflects all of America.”

Goldmon received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arkansas and his doctoral degree from Iowa State University, all in agronomy.

After four years as a field researcher with American Cyanamid (acquired by BASF), he joined Monsanto Company (acquired by Bayer Crop Sciences) in 1995. He held various positions in technology development, where he conducted research on all southern row crops and managed research and development trials in soybeans, rice, and cotton.

Later in his career, he worked on Monsanto's government affairs team and in human resources, retiring as the outreach lead for Bayer Crop Sciences in 2019. Throughout his education and career, he has worked on diversity initiatives and maintained working relationships with several land-grant universities and community-based organizations, USDA said.

Green most recently served as a senior fellow for economic policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington. He has written and spoken regularly about financial markets and regulation; corporate governance and competition; international trade; and the economy and middle class.

Before joining CAP, Green served as counsel to Kara Stein, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). And previous to that, Green served as counsel to Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and staff director of the Senate Banking Committee's Economic Policy Subcommittee.

Before joining Merkley's office in early 2009, Green practiced corporate law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in Hong Kong and Shanghai. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

“We must create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture, including immigrants and seasonal farmworkers,” said Vilsack. “We are grateful to have Andy join the team to help us build a fairer, more transparent food system.”

Vilsack Speaks to National Farmers Union

Vilsack also is on a virtual speaking tour this week after his confirmation last week. He spoke on Monday to members of the National Farmers Union and its online convention, and Vilsack will do the same on Friday to participants for the online Commodity Classic.

Speaking to NFU on Monday, Vilsack made a pitch for the importance of climate policy but in the context of creating new markets and revenue streams for farmers through markets for carbon sequestration, turning farm waste into new products and using traditional USDA programs to incentivize farmers to use climate-smart practices.

Vilsack also said he is determined that trade agreements will be vigorously enforced and that he plans to speak with the top agriculture officials in Canada and Mexico this week to tell them that the United States will insist that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade will be enforced “to the letter.”

He particularly cited the need to make sure Canada complies with the dairy and wheat provisions.

Vilsack noted that farmworkers have been declared essential workers and said he would work with governor's offices to make sure that states “honor the essential worker status and do not gloss over” it.

He repeated previous statements that regional and local markets need to be strengthened, that more processing facilities need to be built and that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard in a way that is “enforced and respected” throughout the administration.

Vilsack said that the last tranche of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that the Trump administration was implementing must be studied to determine that the payment system is appropriate and fair. He gave no schedule for the release of new payments under that program, but noted that the application system is open and that farmers will have another 30 days to make applications after the new rules are announced.

He said he would look into the reestablishment of a task force on concentration and fair markets that was established with the Justice Department in the Obama administration and whether it should be expanded to include the Federal Trade Commission and the Small Business Administration.

Passage of Biden's American Rescue Plan is also vitally important to helping socially disadvantaged farmers, he said.

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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