USDA Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small Visits South Carolina State University

COLUMBIA, S.C. – U.S. Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small visited South Carolina State University (SCSU) on Thursday, April 4, to highlight the department’s ongoing support for agricultural research and education at SCSU and met with students to discuss career opportunities available for the next generation of farmers, foresters, conservationists, and entrepreneurs.

The Deputy’s visit included stops at three sites where students, faculty and University partners conduct
cutting-edge studies and demonstrations to support innovation in agriculture: the SCSU 1890 Research &
Demonstration Farm, SCSU’s Crawford Zimmerman Building, and the SCSU Planetarium.

“Thanks to historic funding secured by President Biden, USDA is creating new opportunities for the next
generation of farmers, foresters, researchers, and entrepreneurs in South Carolina,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small. “These investments will bring economic opportunity back to rural
communities, better position students to build a more resilient food system and give them the chance to
succeed in the communities they love.”

Over the course of several weeks, Deputy Secretary Torres Small will visit campuses across the country to
underscore how colleges and universities are working with USDA to advance rural prosperity, climatesmart practices, competition, and sustainability. Deputy Secretary Torres small will also highlight how USDA is making a difference on college campuses, from new funding for education and training to cutting edge research to economic development to build a food and agriculture food system. The Deputy’s College Tour will include visits to Land-grant Universities, 1980s Land-grant Colleges and Universities, 1994 Institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, community colleges, and state schools.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)has provided more than $5 billion in support to
land-grant university campuses since fiscal year 2021, offering student-centered scholarships to recruit,
mentor, and train undergraduate students for jobs in food and agricultural sciences and related fields.

There are currently 54 students being supported by that scholarship, including seven 1890 National Scholars on South Carolina State’s campus.

“South Carolina Farm Service Agency welcomes Deputy Secretary Torres Small and appreciates the
support of USDA in South Carolina to encourage and increase interest on college campuses in
agricultural innovation and careers,” said South Carolina FSA State Executive Director Laurie Slade
Funderburk. SCSU is an important partner in growing the next generation of agricultural leaders in
production and other agricultural-related fields for the future prosperity of our rural communities and
the state. We are proud to have two 1890 Scholars from SCSU working at FSA offices in South
Carolina, as well as eight USDA Pathways interns coming on board this summer.”

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is ecstatic to host Deputy Secretary Torres
Small and showcase the vast support that we provide to our farmers, ranchers, and foresters through
financial and technical assistance to help them conserve soil, protect water and provide wildlife
habitat,” said USDA NRCS Acting State Conservationist Jamie Keith. “None of this would be
possible without the deep-rooted connections and partnerships with our State Land Grant Institutions
to empower the future agricultural workforce of tomorrow. NRCS South Carolina looks forward to
building and continuing the relationship with SCSU to provide career opportunities to innovative,
future leaders within the agricultural and natural resource fields in continuing to carry the torch of
providing the best customer service to our landowners and producers to conserve our natural

Rural Development (RD) is one of several agencies under USDA that offers career opportunities to build
communities on and off the farm. RD’s investments in rural America include two grant programs that help farmers and businesses more productive and sustainable: – Value-Added Producer Grants and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). South Carolina State University recently received a $200,000 REAP Technical Assistance Grant which will help provide outreach, on-site demonstration workshops and
individual operation assessments to help target audience understand energy efficiency and REAP
opportunities available to assist them.

SCSU has also received a $190,000 Rural Development Business Grant (RBDG) to provide technical
assistance to SCSU’s 1890 Research and Extension. The initiative will provide essential business
education, training, coaching, mentoring, peer support, and resource acquisition referral to small and
emerging businesses located in two different South Carolina regions: Midlands – (Orangeburg, Bamberg,
Calhoun, Barnwell counties) and Pee Dee – (Florence, Marion, Horry, Dillion, Marlboro counties), both of
which include persistent poverty counties and counties with declining populations. It is anticipated that 23 jobs will be created and/or saved because of project.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs,
and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports
infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public
safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more
information, visit

Dr. Lamin Drammeh, Dean Ralph Nobles and USDA’s Travis Johnson visit with Deputy Secretary Xochid Torres Small. Image courtesy Palmetto Agribusiness Council