NRCS: What is Equity?
Equity is the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including people who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment. NRCS customers are the most important visitors to the agency. Our customers are not reliant on NRCS staff, the NRCS staff relies on our customers to be a successful and accomplished federal entity. For such a profound situation, NRCS must provide all our customers with the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, regardless of their circumstances. Program history does not reflect continuous recognition and awarding to underserved farmers and ranchers. Without Equity, the systemic recognition and awarding has too often resulted in continued acceptance of those that are already set up for success…with Equity, NRCS will change this.
We must first understand and be able to identify the equity dimension and its impact. Although the terms ‘equality’ and ‘equity’ are sometimes used interchangeably, the two convey significantly different ideas. Equity is about fairness, while equality is about resemblance.
Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government”, directs federal agencies to examine the services it provides and develop a plan for addressing:
(i) any barriers to full and equal participation in programs identified pursuant to section 5(a) of this order; and
(ii) any barriers to full and equal participation in agency procurement and contracting opportunities identified pursuant to section 5(b) of this order.
For purposes of the order:
(a) The term “equity” means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.
(b) The term “underserved communities” refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the preceding definition of “equity.”