USDA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers has appointed 15 new members, and one of them is Cary Junior, the founder of SouthEast Michigan Producers Association. SEMPA is an organization that assists small rural African Americans and underserved producers outside of Detroit.
The USDA committee serves as a way keep policies just for all farmers.
“Our objective, our purpose is to see are [USDA’s] policies working for farmers or color, if not, what can we do to help improve the relationships between USDA and farmers,” said Junior.
Junior said that while on the committee, he is going to continue to be an advocate for small, grassroots organizations, like SEMPA, to make sure they’re represented.
“Just from my experience, I’m finding out there’s a huge gap between information and resources in what farmers of color know or organizations know,” he said. “I would like to try to engage more of these types of grassroots organizations to [become] involved with the positive [things] from USDA once we identify who they are.”
Junior added that there’s a lot of these organizations that represent farmers of color in the South, but they’re lacking in the Midwest.
“I’m going to make sure the agency is trying to reach out and do outreach and provide whatever resource they can,” said Junior. “Anything and everything that I can find that can help our organization, I want to make sure we take advantage of it.”
With the rise of urban farming, Junior also hopes to use his platform to bridge the gap between younger, urban farmers and older rural farmers.
“[I want to] establish some common camaraderie so the urban farmer would eventually want to go either manage or assist the older farmer with his 40 to 50 acres growing specialty crops, but we also have to talk about livestock and everything else as well,” said Junior.