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U.S. House Ag leader seeks permanent scholarship funding for 1890 land-grant colleges

Virginia State University in Ettrick. (Source: NBC12)
Virginia State University in Ettrick. (Source: NBC12)
Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 11:20 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON — Leaders from 1890 land-grant colleges told the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday how a fresh infusion of scholarship funding provided by Congress has helped those historically Black institutions educate and train the next generation of agriculture workers.

Committee Chairman David Scott, (D-Ga.), said that their testimony would help members of the committee work to make the $80 million scholarship program permanent, rather than reauthorizing it through the farm bill every five years.

“We are moving to make this scholarship program permanent and in order to do that we want to make sure we have the evidence to present that,” said Scott, a graduate of one of the 1890 institutions, Florida A&M University. “I want to be able to get on the record, all of what this scholarship program means to each of you.”

Scott, along with several other lawmakers, worked to provide the scholarship funding in the 2018 farm bill. The funds were divided among the 19 land-grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which span 18 states and were designated land-grant colleges under the Morrill Act of 1890. They include Virginia State University in Ettrick.

“This is a much-needed investment in the future of our food production,” Scott said in his opening statement. “Furthermore, investing in the 1890 Centers of Excellence is essential as they mold talented young minds for our food and agricultural sector, to ensure the success and prosperity of our smaller farmers and ranchers, and fighting hunger across the globe.”

Dr. Makola Abdullah, the president of Virginia State University, said that funding from the scholarships has allowed many first-generation students to earn a degree in the agriculture field without having to take on student loans.

“This program has allowed us to recruit and train the next generation of agricultural leaders who will continue to keep our food supply chain safe,” he said.

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