May 31, 2023

Young, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Support Ag Education Programs at Community Colleges

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and a group of Senate colleagues introduced the bipartisan Community College Agriculture Advancement Act to fund agriculture workforce training, education, and research programs at community colleges.

Many community colleges serve first-generation and minority students, providing training to students entering the agriculture industry. Yet, many of their agricultural programs do not have access to federal resources provided to other four-year institutions. The Community College Agriculture Advancement Act would ensure that community colleges can access federal grants to bolster agricultural programs.

In addition to Senator Young, Senators John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) also introduced this legislation.

“Community colleges serve a key role in rural areas across Indiana. By providing curriculum geared toward improving finance and accounting skills integral to farm management, community colleges help ensure family farms have the tools to meet challenges in the future,” said Senator Young.

“Despite strong funding for higher education agriculture programs, community colleges aren’t seeing their fair share,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “This bill closes that gap to help community colleges train future farmers and build the agricultural workforce we need.”

“Through their research into cutting-edge precision ag technologies or workforce development programs, community colleges are a vital part of Nebraska’s agricultural economy. Our legislation would ensure community colleges get the federal resources they deserve to expand their successful educational and workforce training initiatives in the community. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on more bipartisan opportunities within this year’s Farm Bill,” said Senator Fischer.

“Our agricultural workforce is the economic backbone of communities across Minnesota. That’s why we must ensure students and workers are able to access one- and two-year degrees, credentials, and apprenticeships that will position them for success in critical fields like precision agriculture, natural resources management, and agribusiness,” said Senator Klobuchar. “By boosting resources for agriculture programs at community and technical colleges, this bipartisan legislation will help more people access the education and skills they need to keep our agricultural workforce strong.”

This bill would amend the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 to allow community colleges to access grant money for agriculture programs. The bill would also establish a competitive USDA grant program wherein the nation’s nearly 1,100 community colleges could apply for money to fund workforce training, education, research, and outreach programs in agriculture.

Specifically, a community college that receives a program grant could use the funding to:

  • Successfully compete for funds from federal grants and other sources to carry out educational, research, and outreach activities;
  • Disseminate information relating to agriculture, renewable resources, and other relevant communities;
  • Encourage collaboration involving community colleges, land grant universities, and other higher education institutions;
  • Purchase equipment and other infrastructure;
  • Advance the professional growth and development of faculty; and
  • Develop apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.

U.S. Representatives Trent Kelly (R-MS-01) and Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) are leading the House version of this bill.

Legislative text for the bill can be found here. A summary of the bill can be found here.