Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Details How the 2023 Farm Bill Can Address Racial Disparities in the Land-Grant University System
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Details How the 2023 Farm Bill Can Address Racial Disparities in the Land-Grant University System

Washington, D.C. — Despite the fact that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) often serve students with the greatest financial need, these institutions have the fewest resources upon which to draw. A new Center for American Progress report explains how the 2023 Farm Bill provides an opportunity that only comes around once every five years to address systemic inequities for land-grant HBCUs and TCUs.

Some of the disparities between HBCUs; TCUs; and 1862 land-grant institutions, a majority of which are predominantly white, include the following:

  • On average, 1862 institutions have eight times more endowment assets per student than historically Black 1890 institutions and about four-and-a-half times more than 1994 Tribal institutions.
  • HBCUs have lost out on more than $90 million in the past five years due to federal policies around state matching funds, even as the same states fund equivalent programs at predominantly white land-grant universities well in excess of the federal grant program requirements.
  • At least four of the states that repeatedly underfunded agricultural research and extension programs at land-grant HBCUs in recent years funded the equivalent programs at their predominantly white land-grant institutions many times over in 2022, including: Alabama (Auburn University), at 7-to-1; Texas (Texas A&M University), at 4.8-to-1; Arkansas (University of Arkansas), at 3.5-to-1; and Florida (University of Florida), at 14-to-1.
  • TCUs have much more limited access to capacity-building funding. While 1862 institutions received $11.5 million in capacity funding, on average, in 2022 and 1890 institutions received $7.5 million, on average, TCUs received a paltry $137,405 each.
  • Tribal nations were the original inhabitants of at least 11 million acres of land that were used to establish and fund the U.S. land-grant system, which makes the federal government’s obligation to support Tribal land-grant institutions even more urgent.

The report also outlines five recommendations for how the 2023 Farm Bill can address disparities in funding between 1862 land-grant universities and HBCUs and TCUs:

  1. Modify matching requirements for National Institute of Food and Agriculture grants for research and extension programs to improve equity and access for 1890 institutions. For capacity grants, Congress should implement a joint process for the certification of matching funds and matching-fund waiver requests, or competitive grants, for 1862 and 1890 institutions. Lawmakers should also remove or reduce matching requirements for 1890 institutions.
  2. Better support the research and extension activities of 1994 institutions. The federal government should make the Tribal College Research Grants Program and the Tribal College Extension Grant Program formula-funded capacity grant programs guaranteed to all TCUs, rather than competitive programs, to correspond to the equivalent programs at 1862 and 1890 institutions. It should also remove partnership requirements and reduce or eliminate institutional matching requirements for competitive grants.
  3. Support the infrastructure needs of 1890 and 1994 institutions to help address the impacts of historical underfunding. Congress should reauthorize existing programs that provide facilities grants and fund capital projects for 1890 institutions. In addition, lawmakers should create a 1994 Facilities Grants program similar to the one available for 1890 institutions.
  4. Support postsecondary attainment for underrepresented groups. The federal government should make scholarships for Students at 1890 Institutions permanent and modify the requirements for the New Beginning for Tribal Students program to ensure that 1994 institutions have greater access to these funds.
  5. Protect the oceans by enhancing the capacities of land-grant institutions in U.S. territories to lead marine sciences research and develop conservation policies. Congress should create two Centers of Excellence that focus on ocean conservation, the protection of marine life, climate change, or other related areas. One should be administered by an institution in the Caribbean, and another should be administered by an institution in the Pacific. These centers would offer an opportunity to realize the full potential of Indigenous-led conservation to contribute to the future health of the planet.

“The 2023 Farm Bill represents an opportunity to address the underfunding of HBCUs and TCUs, better supporting important agricultural research and delivering on the nation’s promise of a fair and equal education system for all,” said Sara Partridge, Ph.D., senior policy analyst at CAP and author of the report. “Through practical research, community development, and access-oriented higher education, land-grant universities serve the public good and offer a powerful return on federal investment.”

Read the report: “The 2023 Farm Bill Must Address Inequities in the Land-Grant University System” by Sara Partridge

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].

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