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Press Releases

03/10/2021

Governor Lamont Announces Creation of Working Group To Encourage Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Connecticut Agriculture

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration is forming a working group with the goal of increasing diversity, racial equity, and inclusion within Connecticut’s agriculture industry. Administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Connecticut Agriculture Working Group will focus on engaging and supporting current and future farmers and those in the industry who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

“We need to do a better job of supporting diversity and inclusion within all sectors of our economy, including agriculture,” Governor Lamont said. “We want this working group to collaborate on the barriers that prevent people from entering this sector and create recommendations for what the state and agriculture service providers can do to better support diversity and inclusion within Connecticut’s agricultural community.”

“As Connecticut continues to grow and foster its agricultural infrastructure, it’s critical that we create opportunities that allow our Black and Indigenous residents and people of color to become farmers and thrive,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said. “This starts with embracing and implementing initiatives that promote racial equity and inclusion across food and agriculture. Through the launch of this working group, we can ensure that the agriculture field better represents our entire population and we are better equipped to combat food insecurity in our underserved communities. This working group, under Commissioner Hurlburt’s leadership, will serve as a model nationwide that will encourage other states to commit to supporting policies that allow everyone – regardless of their race, age or zip code – to make a healthy difference in other peoples' lives by working in the agriculture sector.”

Connecticut Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt said that there are significant barriers and issues of access to enter and remain in agriculture, particularly for Black, Indigenous, and persons of color. While there is deep, meaningful work that is being done by community groups, there is a need for institutional support for current and future individuals of color entering professions throughout the agriculture sector, he explained.

"In agriculture, we usually talk about the diversity of our farm commodities and types of production,” Commissioner Hurlburt said. “While diversity is easily seen at a farmers’ market or in the field, it is not usually represented by those around the table. Through intentional inclusion of BIPOC individuals and organizations and others, we will work to move the needle towards true diversity, equity, and inclusion in Connecticut agriculture. This initiative will ensure that Connecticut agriculture better reflects our population by identifying resource gaps, providing support for businesses to grow, and supplying a connection to markets. I am excited to launch into this endeavor and know we will make a positive difference.”

“The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work Group is a necessary addition to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture,” Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said. “Across Connecticut, Black residents, Indigenous residents, and residents of color are working to ensure our agriculture industry is robust, resilient, and a driving force in combatting food insecurity. BIPOC leaders in agriculture deserve to be part of the decision making. This working group will ensure their voices are heard. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee and the chair of the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee, I look forward to working with the task force on federal legislation to support their crucial work.”

The structure of the working groups will be one main working group and five smaller topic subgroups, which will include:

  • Access to Capital and Financial Planning
  • Access to Secure Land Tenure
  • Access to Education and Training
  • Access to Resources, Infrastructure, and Business Planning
  • Market Access and Diversification

The Department of Agriculture is inviting Connecticut farmers, service providers, nonprofits, educators, and others to participate in the working groups. Nominations must be submitted to the agency by April 4, 2021, and appointments will be identified in mid-April. Nominations are strongly encouraged from individuals of all backgrounds. Working groups will meet monthly, or as determined necessary, for approximately a year and a half. Individuals can express interest in multiple subgroups but will be appointed to only one. To submit a nomination, click here.

Questions can be directed to Cyrena Thibodeau at Cyrena.Thibodeau@ct.gov or Jaime Smith at Jaime.Smith@ct.gov. More information is available at www.ctgrown.gov.