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Hickenlooper, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fund Agricultural Education at Community Colleges

May 31, 2023

Bill would equip next generation of farmers, agriculture workers with workforce, educational, and research training

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper recently led Senators Deb Fischer, Amy Klobuchar, Todd Young, Tammy Baldwin, and Roger Wicker in introducing The Community College Agriculture Advancement Act, a bipartisan bill which would fund community college workforce training, education, and research programs in agriculture.The legislation will be considered for inclusion in this year’s Farm Bill.

Many community colleges, which often serve first-generation and minority students, already offer training for future farm workers. But community college agricultural programs have been excluded from federal funding opportunities. The Community College Agriculture Advancement Act would correct this flaw, ensuring that community colleges can access federal grants to bolster agricultural programs.

“Despite strong funding for higher education agriculture programs, community colleges aren’t seeing their fair share,” said 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 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 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.”

“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 Young.

The senators’ 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 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 who 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.
  • Develop apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.

Representatives Trent Kelly (MS) and Salud Carbajal (CA) are leading the bill in the House.

For full text of the bill, click here. For a summary of the bill’s provisions, click here.

Supporters of the bill include: Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement, Colorado Community College System, Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Community College of Denver, Community College of Aurora, Front Range Community College, Lamar Community College, Morgan Community College, Northeastern Junior College, Otero College, Pikes Peak State College, Pueblo Community College, Red Rocks Community College, Trinidad State College, and others.

“The members of the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) are dedicated to partnering with employers, producers and industry professionals to advance agricultural education, demonstration and training throughout the Midwest.  This Farm Bill initiative would support the development of new middle skills workforce programming that is imperative to meeting our world’s growing food needs and sustaining our land and natural resources for future generations,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, Executive Director, Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement

“The Rural Community College Alliance recognizes the importance of the Community College Agriculture Advancement Act of 2023. We offer our support for the bipartisan passing of this Bill to support workforce development in rural communities focused on the agricultural industry and across the country. It is critical that we maintain our strong agricultural communities for the strength of our nation. RCCA urges Congress to work together in passing C2A3 to expand the efforts of our community college partners in growing the agricultural community,” said Dr. Jill Loveless, President/CEO, Rural Community College Alliance

“The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) supports over 330 community colleges across America serving 3.3 million students. Many of our community colleges in rural areas are adept at infusing entrepreneurial mindset and innovative action to meet workforce needs and to support the startup of small businesses connected to agriculture. We believe that Congress can and should work in a bipartisan manner to pass a new farm bill to meet the challenges faced in rural communities and ensure that critical programs continue to work for farmers, families, and local economies,” said Dr. Rebecca A. Corbin, President & CEO, NACCE

“The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) strongly supports the Community College Agriculture Advancement Act of 2023,” said CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia. “Our rural colleges offer innovative programs in precision agriculture, agribusiness, and other areas that keep rural Colorado competitive. Through this legislation, CCCS would be able to expand programs that meet the evolving needs of the ag industry and provide more opportunities for students to train and work in their local communities.”


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