The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it signed an agreement to enhance its support of minority communities through its partnership with 1890s Land-Grant institutions. 

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a new memorandum of understanding Tuesday with Dr. Paul Jones, chair of the 1890s Presidents Council, a group that is made up of presidents and chancellors of historically Black colleges and universities. The MOU sets up a new task force to "inject energy" into USDA's collaboration efforts.

“This signing reinforces USDA’s commitment to our partners at the 1890s institutions and the communities they serve,” Vilsack said in a release. “1890 universities have remained the custodians of access to and opportunity for higher education in underserved communities. They are building a path for the next generation of thought leaders, innovators and change-makers, and USDA will do everything we can to foster that environment.”

House Agriculture Chairman David Scott, who has worked to secure scholarship funding for 1890s institutions, said he is pleased to see the partnership grow. 

“We are making this 1890s college student program permanent so that for generations to come, students at the 1890s will carry on the living legacy of these 1890s institutions and be a glorious blessing for agriculture, and our great nation," Scott said in a release. 

The 1890s land-grant program has 19 collegiate institutions.

For more news, go to