Honoring a Legacy of Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

(USDA) In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, lets thank the employees of USDA for their work in support of Dr. King’s life and legacy of service to the American people.

We celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man whose legacy in support of a unified and equal America gives profound meaning to what our efforts in public service can and should look like.

Dr. King believed we are each stronger when we lift up our neighbors. He lived his life advocating on behalf of the idea that we are better as a nation when no one is left behind.

As we enter this year of the Administration and begin to look back on the progress lets reflect on the ways the dedicated employees of USDA have honored Dr. King’s dream by creating opportunities for—and upholding the unalienable rights of—every American.

Within these walls, we’ve corrected past wrongdoings and planted seeds for a more inclusive future. The USDA became the second federal agency to add gender identity and gender expression as a protected basis, and since we launched our Cultural Transformation initiative in 2010, our Senior Executive Service has grown to surpass the government-wide workforce in 9 out of 10 diversity categories.

In the past years, we’ve increased the number of minority executives by 88 percent and the number of women executives by 38 percent, leading the way and earning recognition as one of the most diverse groups of executives in the entire federal government.

Approximately 30 percent of all new permanent hires are former service men and women, and by working closely with the Office of Personnel Management to develop intern-to-career pathways programs, we’ve seen a 140 percent increase in the number of minority students hired.

Representation is critical, we’ve made meaningful modifications to the Farm Service Agency’s county committee structure by annually reviewing local administrative boundaries to ensure minority and women producers are fairly represented in regional jurisdictions.

We’ve put our words into action, and when statistical analysis demonstrated persistent lack of diversity in a few county committees. Service is at the heart of what good government is and does.

As Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’ We are proud of what we’ve accomplished to overcome a troubled history of discrimination at USDA and build a more diverse Department that stands ready to serve all customers with dignity and respect.

As you and your families observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this coming Monday, please consider commemorating his legacy by serving your own neighbors and communities.

Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do to build a new USDA legacy of equality, service and opportunity for all.

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