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OSU alumnus and former OSU/A&M Regent chosen for USDA advisory committee

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Oklahoma State University alumnus Dr. Claud D. Evans is no stranger to playing a role in shaping policies and programs aimed at making people’s lives better.

In addition to formerly serving as a member of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, he currently is one of Oklahoma’s two representatives on the Southern Region Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching.

His tremendous efforts as an active, engaged Regent and member of CARET no doubt helped pave the way to his latest high-profile opportunity.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack appointed Dr. Evans to the 15-member U.S. Department of Agriculture Minority Farmers Advisory Committee.

“This appointment is meaningful to me because it’ll give me an opportunity to be of service to a group of people who are sometimes underserved by the federal grants and monies that are available to farmers in general,” Dr. Evans said. “It’s also unique because it’s an honor to have been selected by the Secretary of Agriculture to be a part of this advisory committee he has put together.”

Comprised of socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers and representatives from nonprofit organizations and higher education as well as civil rights professions, the MFAC’s mission is to provide farmer, rancher, industry and public perspectives on USDA strategies, policies and programs impacting minority farmers and ranchers.

Dr. Evans said his in-depth involvement in higher education as a former OSU/A&M Regent and his extensive participation with CARET, which advocates for greater support of land-grant system programs that enhance the quality of life for all people, gives him a unique perspective on the issues the MFAC is working to address.

His vision for what he hopes to accomplish as a member of the federal committee is closely aligned to the group’s stated charge.

“The primary goal is education and awareness of the various programs coming through the USDA that are available to all farmers, not just minority farmers, but all farmers,” he said. “Historically, minority farmers, many times, as a group do not know about these opportunities until they are past.”

Dr. Evans also emphasized the committee’s broad interpretation of “minority farmers,” which includes, but is not limited to, American Indians, Hispanics, women, veterans as well as African-Americans.

“One of the things I fear is that a lot of people will think it’s just for black farmers, but that is not the case,” he said. “We need to have a relatively open book when it comes to being of assistance to minority farmers.”

A native of Poteau, Dr. Evans is a 2009 OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Distinguished Alumni. Since 1999, he has been affiliated with CARET, which is comprised of representatives from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. In 2012-13, he became the first African-American to serve as national chair for the organization.

Dr. Evans spent 16 years on the OSU/A&M Board of Regents and participates on the DASNR Dean’s Advisory Council.

He is the proprietor of the Okfuskee County Veterinary Clinic in Okemah, and also is deeply involved in the family’s farming operation, which includes Angus cattle and Spanish meat goats with a gene for cashmere.

Dr. Evans’ term on the committee expires in June 2017. MFAC members serve two-year appointments and are eligible for renewal.

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