Speeches and Floor Statements
Scott Statement: House Agriculture Hearing on “The Next Farm Bill: University Research”
Washington, June 23, 2017
Congressman David Scott (GA-13) gave the following strong statement in support of increased federal funding for 1890s Land-grant HBCUs at the recent House Agriculture Committee hearing to discuss investments in agricultural research as a continuation of the committee’s hearing series on preparing for the next farm bill.
Click here to watch video of Congressman Scott’s remarks.
“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Dr. Hill, let me start off by thanking you and each of the 19 African-American land grant universities first for mentioning our legislation House Resolution 52. And for folks who may not know, House Bill 52 is a very, very strong bipartisan effort to provide our 1890 universities with student scholarships in the amount of 1 million dollars for each of the five years, 95 million dollars for all of the 1890s over the five year period of the farm bill. This is so important.
“And Dr. Hill, your testimony and touch upon the road that the African-American community has had to travel in this country, has been a tough road. And it is our dear hope that the Chairman of our committee will give a schedule to bring up this bill—a bipartisan bill, so we can get it out of this committee, over to the Floor, and onto the Senate where we’ve already got Senators lined up to get it on over to the White House for the President’s signature. We are at that moment now and I am sure that we will have an opportunity to get that bill called up and passed—it’s the first step, it’s bipartisan.
“The other thing is the whole 1890s was started by Republicans. What a strong bipartisan effort it would be to lift up the 1890s with this bill and give a shining light out of the darkness. Because, not only in the area that we talked about here Dr. Hill, but you had mentioned that about the one-to-one match for the 1890s institutions cultural research funding, and that the institutions must request a waiver to get the federal funds without the state match and while to my knowledge no waiver application has never been denied—but that leaves the African-American 1890s institutions with half as much money as Congress intended. That’s like giving you something with one hand and slapping you in the face with the other. And that has to stop. Most states that have both predominately white 1862s, and predominately African-American 1890 institutions submit a joint plan of agriculture research so we know that they have information on the research plan for the years.
“So, let me ask you Dr. Hill, do states currently fund and match all land-grant colleges at the same level?”
Dr. Walter H. Hill, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences and Vice Provost for Land-Grant Affairs, Tuskegee University: “No.“
Rep. Scott continued, “All right. The following question is: What can we, here in Congress, do to encourage states to match each institution in the state at an equivalent amount, up to 100%? Why not do that? That’s what Morrill, the Republican Congressman said—separate but equal—we’re separate all right, but we’ve never been equal. But this year’s Farm Bill, with this money for scholarships, and with us getting some equality in this matching, what a powerful, powerful message that would send. Republicans and Democrats working together to lift up our 1890s African-American institutions.”
Dr. Hill: I’ll just respond briefly; I guess I might be the old timer here, having 40 years in at Dean of Tuskegee and having worked the legislature in Alabama and worked with Auburn, A&M, and all the systems. I would just say this: I recently talked with Sonny Ramaswamy, the new plan of work provides you with an opportunity. Because the first thing you see on that plan is how the funds are distributed for each state. My recommendation to him was that we do a report card for each state. Because they do a summary write-up of how states do when they write up those reports. I challenge you all to your plan of work reports and results for your particular states and look at those first few pages—that will tell a whole story and then if we add a report card, we can put on their points, and one of the points would be matching. And the state that did everything right but didn’t do the matching would not get a good grade on that one. And it will stand out and we would share that with our Legislator’s. I think we would have a good conversation.
Rep. Scott: “Thank you very much, Dr. Hill.“