Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in U.S. Agriculture

To address Field to Market’s strategic priority to convene diverse stakeholders by “develop(ing) strategic partnerships that lead to collaborative solutions for how the agricultural value chain can advance equity and inclusion for farmers of color and other underrepresented communities, especially within the context of sustainability initiatives” specified in the 2022 – 2024 strategic plan, an outside consulting firm, Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI) was contracted using funds provided by the Walton Foundation. 

On March 15 and March 22, 2022, SDI facilitated two half-day diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic planning sessions for Field to Market staff, members and other stakeholders.  During these virtual sessions, participants engaged in a foundational training on central DEI concepts including bias, microaggressions, systemic inequities, and allyship. Next, participants engaged in robust and honest discussions about both barriers and opportunities for advancing DEI within Field to Market’s programs.  During the final session, concrete, actionable strategies were identified and prioritized. 

Working in small groups, participants brainstormed, then prioritized short- and long-term strategies for moving Field to Market toward the priority specified in our 2022-2024 plan. SDI captured all data in real time and refined these three strategies and their corresponding action items into the following strategic plan. 

Strategy 1:  Build trust between BIPOC producers and the agricultural supply chain 

We will accomplish this by:  

  • Increasing diversity among Field to Market members and prioritize recruitment of organizations representing historically underserved growers and other agricultural professionals.
  • Including content addressing issues around diversity, equity and inclusion in Field Market’s programming. 
  • Inviting speakers and other content experts that offer a different perspective or represent organizations that have not historically participated in Field to Market programming. 
  •  Communicating the value of an equitable agricultural system. 
  • Supporting initiatives that increase access to equipment, land, markets and financing for BIPOC producers.  

Strategy 2:  Embed consideration for the social aspects of sustainability in our programming particularly in Accelerator projects  

We will accomplish this by: 

  • Exploring the inclusion of goals related to social responsibility in Accelerator projects and creating rubrics to help projects assess their progress toward those goals.  
  • Adding functionality to the Partnership Exchange that makes it easier for members to find and partner with organizations that directly support underserved growers and other agricultural professionals. 
  • Analyzing and correcting policies that inadvertently inhibit participation in supply chain programs.  

Strategy 3:  Strengthen organizational capacity to advance DEI 

We will accomplish this by: 

  • Increasing diversity among Field to Market staff, Board of Directors, committee and working group members.   
  • Having a staff member dedicated to DEI work.  
  • Developing protocols to ensure diverse candidates for hiring and internships. 
  • Highlighting Field to Market and Member efforts to advance the work of diversity, equity and inclusion through storytelling.  
  • Providing a venue for sharing lessons learned and best practices to support underserved growers and BIPOC colleagues.  

Resources on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Agriculture

Field to Market Resources:

  • Cross-Sector Dialogue Summary & Key Findings
    • In March, 2021, Field to Market hosted a Cross-Sector Dialogue that examined the history and ongoing racial barriers and biases in U.S. agriculture and explored how to support collaborative solutions that advance equity and inclusion for BIPOC farmers and communities 
  • Advancing Racial Equity And Justice In US Agriculture 
    • Recorded panel discussion from the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Summit, hosted by Field to Market and MANNRS. 



Tools and exercises:

  • Young Farmers Racial Equity Toolkit 
    • Developed by the National Young Farmers Coalition, this toolkit aims to orient and incite members toward preliminary consciousness-raising and direct action. This toolkit does not detail a universally applicable pathway toward resolving pervasive racialized oppression; it is an initial resource for people who are overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the problem, and need help determining how to start dismantling racism in their communities.
  • Harvard Implicit Association Tests 
    • Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition - thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control. The goal of the organization is to educate the public about hidden biases and to provide a “virtual laboratory” for collecting data on the Internet. 
  • Privilege Walk
    • Adapted for Lake Land College by the Diversity Education Task Force, designed to provide college students with an opportunity to understand the intricacies of privilege and to explore the ways that we enjoy privileges based on being members of social identity groups in the United States.