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Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accountability (IDEA)

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About the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accountability (IDEA) Initiative

Since 2020, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accountability (IDEA) group has met to discuss equity initiatives and needs at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and provide action steps for improving personal and professional aspects of equity in the workplace. The group has focused on personal learning, internal operations, and outward stakeholder relations.  


We envision a Vermont farm, food, and forest system with equitable and just access to resources that reflects the diversity of our communities and is rooted in sustainability, food sovereignty, and a sense of belonging for all. We envision the Agency will actively contribute to the equity of this system by advancing racial equity, inclusion, and diversity throughout our operations.   


The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets is committed to advancing racial equity and justice in Vermont's agriculture and food system through our internal practices and external work. We will build an equitable, anti-racist workplace and shape our work to challenge barriers to diversity, inclusion, and belonging. 

IDEA History & Equity Audit

The IDEA group formed in the summer of 2020, as the country reacted to the circumstances surrounding the murder of George Floyd. VAAFM staff were increasingly aware that as individuals and as an organization we needed to tackle issues of inequity, bias, and discrimination at our workplace in ways that were explicit, educational, and actionable. Knowing the required state employee trainings currently available were insufficient, a grassroots group emerged to learn, plan, and facilitate conversation. 

With financial support and encouragement from Agency leadership, we put out a bid in late 2021 to gain professional guidance to help make equity a core principle of VAAFM’s work. In 2022, the IDEA group contracted for a year-long process to conduct an equity audit and draft an Action Plan for tangible next steps to address the most pressing equity issues at VAAFM.

We are grateful for the diligent work and partnership of our contractor, MMG Earth, to help us navigate this vital data collection and action plan organizing.

The contractor and IDEA began our work in 2022, initiating a racial equity and belonging audit (REBA). Through the audit process, we sought to understand:  

  • Staff’s current/baseline perceptions and values around equity  
  • Gaps both within and outside of VAAFM   
  • What VAAFM is already doing that we can build upon   
  • Issues we feel we can change, will have the largest effect, or are highest priority  
  • If we are reaching marginalized populations and what are the barriers to engagement  
  • How to engage a mostly white staff in a mostly white state  
  • How supremacy culture shows up in our work and recommendations for how to respond  

The contractor explored these questions via surveys, individual interviews, and Agency-wide sessions, resulting in a Racial Equity & Belonging Audit (REBA) Report and Action Plan.

Racial Equity & Belonging Audit (REBA) Report

Action Plan & Next Steps

The VAAFM Racial Equity Action Plan was developed in 2023 based on findings from the extensive agency-wide Racial Equity & Belonging Audit (REBA), followed by co-design sessions with participants from across the entire agency. The IDEA group is implementing the recommendations. 

Racial Equity Action Plan


Questions or feedback about this work? Contact Abbey Willard, Agriculture Development Division Director, at