The latest version of the Farm Bill — the primary agriculture funding policy in the U.S. — could allow Central State University to compete for as much as $8 million more in federal and state funding.
The change came as an amendment to the bill sponsored by U.S. Rep Mike Turner and touted by the congressman and CSU president Cynthia Hammond-Jackson on Monday at Turner’s downtown Dayton office.
Before the 2014 Farm Bill, Central State was not fully recognized as an 1890 land grant institution by the federal government, Turner said. The 2019 Farm Bill as passed by the U.S. House would make Central State eligible for as much federal funding as other colleges with the designation.
If approved by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by president Donald Trump, Central State could begin receiving additional federal funding by 2020, Turner said.
“This is an injustice that was being done to Central State,” Turner said.
The amendment “evens the playing field of federal funding qualifications for all 1890 land-grant historically black colleges rather than just a few,” according to Turner’s website.
The funding will go into two separate categories, one for extension services which allows the university to go out into the community and help “under-served populations,” Hammond-Jackson said. Another portion of the funding will go toward teaching and research, she said.
“Having the necessary funding through this amendment will be really beneficial not only to Central State but to the entire state of Ohio,” Jackson-Hammond said.
Federal funding has historically been doled out to CSU “arbitrarily” and if the 2019 Farm Bill becomes law it would take a “look at how the funding is allocated across all 1890s,” Jackson-Hammond said.
The funding would be a win for Central State, which just emerged from state fiscal watch last year.
Central State was placed on fiscal watch in 2015, after it fell below a state threshold measuring financial health two years in a row. A decline in enrollment and students’ difficulty in qualifying for federal financial aid were major challenges for the historically-black university, Jackson-Hammond has said.
Turner worked on the amendment to the bill with U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Columbus Democrat who is an alumna of Central State. Turner is also working with U.S. Senators, including Democrat Sherrod Brown, to get the amendment passed in the legislature’s upper chamber, he said.
Turner said CSU not getting federal funding because of a simple designation is “one of those issues where you can’t believe that type of wrong is happening in your community.”
“This isn’t increased federal funding this is federal funding that should be going to our community and wasn’t going to our community,” he said.
The Farm Bill amendment comes just a few months after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited campus on April 5. Perdue has thrown his full support behind the amendment that would allow CSU to compete for more federal funding, Turner said on Monday.
In recent years, Central State has been working to expand its agricultural programs and when Perdue was on campus in April he encouraged students to apply for internships and jobs with the USDA.
“I would love for you young people to look at USDA as a career,” Perdue told students. “There are many careers in agriculture that you’re learning here and preparing (for) here.”
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