US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for Ohio Sherrod Brown
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded $1,005,263.16 in scholarship funding to Central State University. The award comes as part of $19 million in grant funding for 1890 Land-Grant Institutions. This annual funding was made available by Brown’s bipartisan fight to secure $80 million in the 2018 Farm Bill for new agriculture-focused scholarships for Land-Grant HBCUs, including Central State University in Wilberforce. In total, between FY2020 and FY2021, Central State has received $1,757,895.16 in scholarship funding from NIFA grants.
“1890 Land-Grant Institutions have fostered generations of Black students, farmers, and scientists who would have otherwise been denied opportunities due to segregation,” said Brown. “This key investment will ensure institutions like Central State University can continue training the next generation of agricultural leaders.”
“Central State University, Ohio’s only 1890 Land-Grant Institution, has had explosive growth in the past four years with the support of the Farm Bill. We have expanded our footprint for delivery of services to underserved rural and urban communities,” said Central State University President Dr. Jack Thomas. “Our students have increased access to faculty research and study experiences, which has increased their competiveness for careers, graduate work, and doctoral studies.”
The program aims to increase the number of students studying agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, and other agriculture-related disciplines at 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, which are historically Black universities. The program provides full tuition, fees, books, room and board to students pursuing degrees in agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or related academic disciplines.
When the student has completed the academic and summer work requirements of the scholarship, USDA may convert the student to a permanent employee without further competition. Currently, USDA and 1890 Land-Grant Universities are providing scholarships to 109 students.
Brown has been working to secure critical investments for 1890 Land-Grant institutions like Central State University in Wilberforce, securing an additional $3 million for research in a spending package passed by the Senate in 2019. The funds will go toward research at Centers for Excellence, which Brown secured the creation of as part of the 2018 Farm Bill that was signed into law in December 2018. The designated lead universities at each Center for Excellence are required to develop public-private partnerships, to ensure that their research activities provide increased access and economic returns to farmers and rural communities, and to contribute to poverty reduction, and reduce health disparities and economic vulnerability of local communities.
For more than 100 years, Central State University was denied 1890 Land-Grant status, meaning it was ineligible for funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its innovative scientific research. Brown secured a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that corrects the oversight and increased the amount of formula funding that Central State is able to receive from USDA, while not jeopardizing the funding of any other 1890 Land-Grant institution.
Brown was also able to include a provision from his Carryover Equity Act in the 2018 Farm Bill, which fixed a provision that prohibits 1890 Land-Grant Universities from carrying over more than 20 percent of their equity from one fiscal year to the next. This arbitrary provision limited the ability of these universities to use their funds as they see fit and notably diverges from policies that govern other similar Department of Agriculture programs.