The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative’s Meagen Baldy (Hupa from the Hoopa Valley Tribe) recently accepted the nomination to the inaugural U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC).
“Meagen’s knowledge and expertise will prove an invaluable resource in supporting improved USDA service to Indian Country across its many programs and authorities,” said IFAI’s Executive
Director, Erin Parker. “IFAI is proud of her commitment to Indian Country and being named to the first-
ever Tribal Advisory Committee.”
Baldy resides with her husband and six children on a small hog farm on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in California. She currently serves as IFAI’s food safety specialist and trains Tribal operations and producers to become compliant with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Baldy also leads food preservation trainings and youth outreach for IFAI.
Before IFAI, Baldy served 11 years as district coordinator for the Klamath Trinity Resource Conservation District, the first and only Tribal Conservation District (TCD) in California. Her keen eye for developing and implementing solutions helped improve her community’s access to traditional foods, learn safe food handling and preservation methods, and create sustainable economic growth.
“I am grateful for each opportunity given to me to help others and lean on the successes and lessons learned through my food and agricultural experience here at Hoopa to improve food systems across Indian Country,” Baldy said.
As part of her work in improving food systems in the Hoopa Valley Tribe, Baldy, along with other women in her community, established the Hoopa Famer’s Market. This popular market provides a place for local and Tribal producers to sell fruits, vegetables, specialty foods, and plants. Additionally, the program provides fresh foods to elders and families in need.
“Meagen is someone that not only works hard for her own family, but she works very hard to make sure others are able to benefit from all her efforts as well, whether that’s education and food production — or education around food preservation — just creating opportunities for people to not only produce food but also generate an income,” said Hoopa Valley Tribe Chairman Joe Davis.
Baldy also currently serves as a Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council member, providing insight to improve USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service’s (NRCS) program delivery across Indian Country. Additionally, she has been the Pacific Region Board Member for the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) since 2017.
“As an RTCAC member, I have had the unique opportunity to inform USDA directly on issues and solutions to help Indian Country’s conservation and natural resources management. The TAC appointment builds on this experience to provide a greater insight covering all USDA programs,” Baldy said.
Road to TAC
IFAI serves as the Native Farm Bill Coalition’s (NFBC) research partner. In this role, IFAI conducted
outreach across Indian Country ahead of the past and upcoming Farm Bills to gather feedback from Tribal leaders, Tribal producers, and Tribal citizens on Farm Bill programs and their successes and challenges in reaching Tribal agricultural operations.
Establishing the TAC was a key priority for NFBC members in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Of the 63 Tribal specific provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, seating the TAC is one of the last to be implemented,” said IFAI’s Associate Executive Director, Carly Griffith Hotvedt (Cherokee Nation).
“Meagen and the other committee members will, no doubt, serve as a strong voice for Indian Country through their unique perspectives, experiences, and specialties, while also helping USDA uphold its federal trust responsibility,” she added.
Learn more about the Tribal Advisory Committee at usda.gov/tribalrelations/advisory-committee; and access information and resources developed by the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at indigenousfoodandag.com.
The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas School of Law enhances the health and wellness of Tribal communities by advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development, and cultural food traditions. IFAI provides strategic legal analysis, policy research, and educational resources to empower Indian Country through food sovereignty, agriculture, and economic development.
Featured photo graciously provided by Nelia Marshall from Nelia Marshall Photography.