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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, I first wish to commend Ranking Member ROSA DELAURO and Chairman Bonilla for their good work on this appropriations bill. It is a good bipartisan bill that has brought in a very important issue, especially as it pertains to Hispanic Serving Institutions and Colleges.

I now rise in favor of this collaboration amendment by my Congressional Hispanic and Black Caucus to boost funding for minority education in farming programs at the USDA. This amendment is being offered by me, Representatives BUTTERFIELD, HINOJOSA and THOMPSON to increase funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions and for the 2501 Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Program.

This amendment is important because it provides funding to help minority educations in agriculture.


Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, I don't mind. I just wanted to read it for the RECORD to be recorded that I am fighting on behalf of everyone, if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman. But I appreciate that. I think it is important, and I appreciate the fact that they are moving on the amendment. Also I felt it was important for people to hear the amendment itself in terms of what it does.

This amendment is important because it provides funding for minority education in agriculture and helps rebuild a minority farming community that has been often neglected and discriminated against.

Hispanic Serving Institutions are a great source of innovation and deserve funding to continue generating advances in agricultural sciences. We must stop the long-standing practice of underfunding these institutions.

HSI funding lags behind funding for other minority institutions and remains underfunded by nearly 75 percent. With population growth, and this is why I appreciate the chairman's concern, and innovative ideas in terms of helping Hispanic-growing populations, we see enrollment at HSIs has skyrocketed, but funding remains very low and it is still unacceptable.

HSIs have grown to a number nearly equal to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The funding has remained much lower.

A decade ago, we had less than 100 of the HSIs, and now we have nearly 250. In my district alone, we have three Hispanic Serving Institutions: Chaffey Community College, San Bernardino Community College and San Bernardino Cal State University of California. Hispanic community colleges want to know why they should not receive the full $20 million per year in investment we promised them in the farm bill.

In addition, the 2501 program helps socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, the fastest growing population in agriculture. We need to help these small minority farmers who are investing and keeping our country's farming legacy alive and well.

This program can help thousands of farm workers who are leaving strawberry fields behind and growing their own crops. This is a great example of the American Dream.

On the opposite side of the American Dream, this program helps keep farming traditions of thousands of African American farmers forced to the brink of discrimination, often by our own Federal Government.

Mr. Chairman, I understand you have agreed to accept this amendment, and I appreciate that. Again, I want to thank you; I want to thank Ranking Member DeLauro for the fine and great work on this legislation and this bill. So I thank both of you.

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