UACES Facebook Division of Agriculture’s Rainey appointed to USDA Equity Commission
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Division of Agriculture’s Rainey appointed to USDA Equity Commission

USDA appoints two Arkansas representatives to its Equity Commission

Feb. 10, 2022

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • Committee, subcommittee meant to address USDA policies, programs
  • Committee is part of American Rescue Plan
  • Rainey serves as assistant VP of Division of Agriculture, SMREC director

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(Newsrooms: Names in bulleted list in 11th graf are CQ; with file art of Rainey: head shot —; Rainey speaking —

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ron Rainey, assistant vice president of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s newly established Equity Commission, one of two Arkansans chosen to serve.

Ron Rainey
APPOINTED — Ron Rainey has been appointed to the USDA's inaugural Equity Commission, one of two Arkansans to be named to the panel. (Image courtesy Ron Rainey)

Hazell Reed, retired vice chancellor for research and economic development from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, was also named. Reed is also executive director of the National Black Growers Council. 

The 15-member commission and its subcommittee on agriculture were authorized under the American Rescue Plan Act. The commission holds its first public meeting Feb. 28, with an orientation for members set for next week. 

In addition to his appointment as assistant vice president, Rainey is also director of the Southern Risk Management Education Center and an extension economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

A native of the Center community in Conway County, Rainey joined the Division of Agriculture in 1993 as an assistant extension specialist in economics. All of his degrees came from the University of Arkansas. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics and his Ph.D. in economics.

“As a product of the Land Grant system, I am honored to be part of this inaugural committee seeking to help USDA evaluate its programs and practices in order to equitably drive economic development in agriculture and rural America,” Rainey said. “It’s an honor and opportunity for me to pursue growth in this space across the Division of Agriculture to enhance our programs and service.”

Dr. Donald R. Bobbitt, president of the University of Arkansas System, praised the selection of Rainey and Reed.

“In a state like ours, where agriculture plays such a pertinent role in its overall economy and prosperity of its many diverse farming communities, it’s wonderful to see representation on this newly formed committee that aims to strengthen equitable practices that will benefit us all,” Bobbitt said. “And to have both of those Arkansans doing meaningful work within the UA System is a tribute to the great work being done at both UAPB and at the Division of Agriculture. I look forward to learning more about the work of this commission and how we can use that to continue strengthening equitable practices within the System and our state.”

“This is not only an honor for Ron but a shared honor for the Division of Agriculture,” said

Chuck Culver, interim vice president for the Division of Agriculture. “We are proud that Ron has been selected and concur with the wisdom of their choice. We know he will serve with distinction.”

The commission members are:

  • Arturo S. Rodriguez, California 
  • Hazell Reed, Arkansas 
  • Toni Stanger-McLaughlin, Washington 
  • Derrick Johnson, Mississippi 
  • Ron Rainey, Arkansas 
  • Mireya Loza, District of Columbia 
  • Charles Rawls, Virginia 
  • Shorlette Ammons, North Carolina 
  • Poppy Sias-Hernandez, Michigan 
  • Todd Corley, Ohio 
  • Yvonne Lee, California
  • Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Virginia 
  • Shirley Sherrod, Georgia
  • Ertharin Cousin, Illinois
  • Rick Smith, Missouri 

“I’m particularly excited to be one of two people to represent Arkansas on this commission and pleased to be working side-by-side with Hazell Reed,” Rainey said.

Bob Scott, senior associate vice president for agriculture-extension for the Division of Agriculture, cited Rainey’s past work as an asset.

“Dr. Rainey brings first-hand knowledge of working with underserved growers to this group,” Scott said. “I know that Dr. Rainey will do an excellent job representing us and other Mid-South universities.  I am excited that the Division of Ag has representation on this historic commission.” 

Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research, for the Division of Agriculture, said that “this is an important appointment for both Dr. Rainey and the Division of Agriculture. “The commission is taking on a significant challenge and I am looking forward to seeing the progress they will make in this arena.”

Deacue Fields, dean of the Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, called USDA commission appointment “a testament to Rainey’s national reputation.

“I look forward to what Ron’s contribution will yield,” Fields said.

John Anderson, head of the department of agricultural economics and agribusiness, said that Rainey has “the perfect skill set, attitude, and demeanor to be a real leader in this important process. I’m glad to see that recognized with this appointment.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the “USDA acknowledges we have not done enough to provide all farmers and ranchers an equal chance of success and prosperity, and we are striving to change that. This commission will support our work to build a USDA that does not ignore or leave anyone behind anyone as we dismantle barriers that historically underserved communities have faced in accessing USDA programs and services.”

More details on each member and about the first Equity Commission meeting can be found at

To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch.

To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media contact: Mary Hightower