Economic Development:

Minorities and Women on Farm Committees

RCED-95-113R: Published: Mar 1, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed whether women and minorities are adequately represented on Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) community, county, and state committees. GAO noted that: (1) minority producers are underrepresented on ASCS county and community committees; (2) although minority producers account for nearly 5 percent of the producers eligible to vote for committee members, only 2.1 percent are represented on county committees; (3) in some states, less than 1 percent of the eligible minority producers serve on county and community committees; (4) although women represent about 28 percent of the producers eligible to vote for committee members, only 5.7 percent are represented on county committees; (5) sufficient data are not available to determine whether committee underrepresentation is caused by racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice; (6) the Secretary of Agriculture has appointed at least one minority or woman to state oversight committees to ensure minorities and women of representation; and (7) Department of Agriculture efforts to increase minority and women involvement on community, county, and state committees include adding minority advisers to county committees, updating eligible voter lists, requiring that candidate lists reflect the community and county voter makeup, and commissioning a study to further examine the issue.

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