Dr. Ron Rainey, assistant vice president of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly established equity commission, one of two Arkansans chosen to serve.
Hazell Reed, retired vice chancellor for research and economic development from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was also named. Reed is also executive director of the National Black Growers Council.
The 15-member commission and its subcommittee on agriculture were authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act. The commission holds its first public meeting Feb. 28.
In addition to his appointment as assistant vice president, Rainey is also director of the Southern Risk Management Education Center and an extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
A native of the Center community in Conway County, Rainey joined the Division of Agriculture in 1993 as an assistant extension specialist in economics. All of his degrees came from the University of Arkansas. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and his Ph.D. in economics.
“As a product of the Land Grant system, I am honored to be part of this inaugural committee seeking to help USDA evaluate its programs and practices in order to equitably drive economic development in agriculture and rural America,” Rainey said. “It’s an honor and opportunity for me to pursue growth in this space across the Division of Agriculture to enhance our programs and service.”
Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, praised the selection of Rainey and Reed.
“In a state like ours, where agriculture plays such a pertinent role in its overall economy and prosperity of its many diverse farming communities, it’s wonderful to see representation on this newly formed committee that aims to strengthen equitable practices that will benefit us all,” Bobbitt said. “And to have both of those Arkansans doing meaningful work within the UA System is a tribute to the great work being done at both UAPB and at the Division of Agriculture. I look forward to learning more about the work of this commission and how we can use that to continue strengthening equitable practices within the System and our state.”
John Anderson, head of the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness, said that Rainey has “the perfect skill set, attitude, and demeanor to be a real leader in this important process. I’m glad to see that recognized with this appointment.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the “USDA acknowledges we have not done enough to provide all farmers and ranchers an equal chance of success and prosperity, and we are striving to change that. This commission will support our work to build a USDA that does not ignore or leave anyone behind anyone as we dismantle barriers that historically underserved communities have faced in accessing USDA programs and services.”