USDA Signs Agreement with the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) to Prepare Young People for Careers in Agriculture

December 12, 2023

WASHINGTON, December 12, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Agriculture Future of America (AFA), formalizing a partnership to promote the common goals of strengthening the future competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. agriculture industry by preparing more young people for careers in agriculture.

“This MOU comes at a key time to enhance USDA’s involvement with AFA and its leadership development and education mission,” said Secretary Vilsack. “This agreement reinforces USDA’s commitment to preparing students for future careers in agriculture with an emphasis on federal sector employment. It supports USDA’s Equity Action Plan, helping to remove barriers for all Americans; ensuring America’s food system is equitable, resilient, and prosperous; and connecting AFA to those interests and resources through USDA programs and initiatives.”

USDA and AFA will continue to collaborate on both short- and long-term initiatives to inspire and prepare youth, foster leadership development, and link these young leaders with career opportunities in food, agricultural science, natural resources, and related fields. Under the MOU, USDA commits to advancing opportunities for students involved in AFA to participate in USDA programs, including internships. AFA will provide occasions for USDA to meet with students to share information about these opportunities.

The MOU will be administered by USDA’s Office of Partnership and Public Engagement (OPPE), which develops and maintains partnerships focused on solutions to challenges facing rural and underserved communities and connects those communities to the education, tools, and resources available to them through USDA programs and initiatives.

"Our collaboration with USDA signifies a shared vision for the future of American agriculture,” said Mark Stewart, President and CEO of AFA. “This MOU is not just a document; it's a commitment to bridging the gap between talent and opportunity. This agreement reinforces our belief that connecting young leaders with USDA initiatives will enrich their careers and contribute to a more resilient and competitive agriculture industry.”

For media inquiries or additional information, please contact:

Nicole Erceg, Director of Marketing, Agriculture Future of America

USDA Media Contact: Joyce El kouarti, Communications Division Chief, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement,

About Agriculture Future of America

AFA builds bridges for young leaders to foster engagement and innovation in food and agriculture through premier leader and career development experiences. With program participation increasing 28% in the last five years, AFA has provided 26,000 leader development experiences to college leaders and young professionals from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout 43 states since its inception in 1996. AFA has awarded more than $11.5 million in academic and leader development scholarships. For more information about AFA, visit

About USDA

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit