Sep 27, 2023
From September 15 by way of October 15, we acknowledge Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating fairness champions within the Hispanic agricultural group. Certainly one of these champions is David Josué Carrasquillo-Medrano, a member of USDA Equity Commission’s Rural Community Economic Development (RCED) Subcommittee. As Government Director of ¡Planifiquemos! in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carrasquillo-Medrano has spent years advancing fairness and constructing group infrastructure in Puerto Rico. He has devoted his profession to making sure that underrepresented communities obtain equal entry to sources and alternatives.
“As a Puerto Rican and consultant from a non-incorporated territory, I carry a novel perspective to USDA’s fairness packages highlighting the burden that comes with being an underrepresented voice in a system that has traditionally perpetuated disparities and inappropriate practices,” he says.
Carrasquillo-Medrano has fought for large adjustments in federal packages. He has advocated for a extra inclusive and culturally delicate strategy to packages and urges consideration of the varied agricultural practices and foodways of all communities, no matter their location or demographic make-up. Puerto Rico is extremely depending on imported meals, but the island sits on the backside of the meals provide chain, inflicting its residents to endure adverse dietary impression, together with delayed entry to recent merchandise. Puerto Rican communities have confronted long-term, continual challenges in accessing meals and vitamin sources, together with Puerto Rico’s restricted Diet Help Program advantages and better meals prices as a result of Jones Act.
“The present federal subsidy scheme neglects to account for the distinctive meals tradition of Puerto Rico, different territories, and even minorities inside these territories,” says Carrasquillo-Medrano. “Whereas efforts are being made to treatment this, exclusion nonetheless exists for farmers and producers in these areas, in addition to a disregard for the dietary wants and preferences of the native inhabitants, lots of whom don’t adhere to strictly white-centric diets.”
Carrasquillo-Medrano is dedicated to growing suggestions that guarantee equitable entry to USDA packages and companies.
“As an energetic participant of Fairness Fee Subcommittee conversations, I deal with studying as a lot as doable so I can work intently with communities to information them in higher understanding their choices and efficiently apply for funding and sources,” he says.
September can be Nationwide Preparedness Month, which hits near dwelling for Carrasquillo-Medrano given the numerous pure disasters Puerto Rico has skilled lately. He displays on his dedication to stopping gentrification and displacement whereas guaranteeing that rural and low-income communities have the sources and help they should thrive throughout excessive climate occasions. Carrasquillo-Medrano says, “Watching a number of communities in Puerto Rico disappear brick by brick within the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, I noticed firsthand—and am nonetheless seeing—how profit-driven infrastructure growth can erase the very individuals it was meant to serve. No group deserves that.”
For Carrasquillo-Medrano, the largest obstacles for a lot of underserved communities embrace the lack of know-how in enhance their livelihoods, lack of assist from exterior stakeholders in making such updates, and lack of understanding on the place to go for sources.
“Certainly one of my greatest rewards within the agriculture area is having the ability to information communities by way of mandatory conversations and serving to them navigate the complexities of forms,” he says. “For group planners, or anybody attempting to make a greater world generally, I’d say be taught to say ‘sure’ greater than ‘no’, see the world past your horizons, and be capable to pay attention. Total, it’s essential to know who wants what change as a way to design it.”
Carrasquillo-Medrano is decided to not let his time on the Rural Group Financial Growth subcommittee go to waste.
“This can be the primary time a Puerto Rican voice is heard in an institutional area designed to deal with systemic inequities. I really feel this as a private accountability to immerse myself within the course of and combat for justice in order that after I return dwelling after every assembly, I can say with a straight face ‘I did my greatest’,” Carrasquillo-Medrano asserts. “I’m additionally grateful to the USDA officers, employees, and fellow members for acknowledging and validating my perspective. It has relieved a number of the burden I carry.”
For extra on the Fairness Fee, go to www.usda.gov/equity-commission.