Policy Brief – March 12, 2024

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Policy Brief Summary

Last week, the House Committees on Natural Resources and Agriculture discussed the importance of 638  to Indian Country. This week, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a meeting on the Indian Buffalo Management Act. 

On March 9, the President signed into law,  H.R. 4366, which provides funding until September 30, 2024, to several Departments including the Department of Agriculture.  

Nominations are open for the Invasive Species Advisory Committee until April 27, 2024. 

On March 15, USDA Food and Nutrition Services will host an online-only Tribal consultation on two proposed rules (work requirements and EBT card technology). IFAI will facilitate a Tribal caucus/briefing on these proposed rules on March 13 at 2:30 p.m., pre-register here, and get access to the IFAI briefing note when it is published next week. 

A notable Federal Register notice this week comes out of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service regarding a final rule on amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. The final rule addresses discriminatory or deceptive practices experienced by producers and growers from packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers. 

This week’s tribal news includes articles include information about Tribal leaders and educators’ efforts to decolonize foodways in South Dakota, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs conservation efforts for drought conditions affecting the Deschutes River in Oregon, and land recovery through as Native Community Development Financial Institutions and Tribal Development Financial Institutions. 

Congressional updates   

Looking Back

Hearing: House Committee on Natural Resources – Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2024 at 2:15 p.m. EST

Topic: Advancing Tribal Self-Determination: Examining Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 638 Contracting – Indian and Insular Affairs Subcommittee


Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (Department of Interior)

Deborah Dotson, President, Delaware Nation

Martin Harvier, President, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community

Jay Spaan, Executive Director, Self-Governance Communication & Education Tribal Consortium

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chairwoman Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah

Highlights: Witnesses provided statements reaffirming the need for 638 contracting, but that there was still a lot of room for improvement in the process of receiving the funds.

Looking Ahead

Hearing: House Natural Resource Committee– Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. EST 

Topic: Full Committee Markup; H.R. 6368, “Indian Buffalo Management Act” 

Witnesses: Committee members 

Executive Branch and Federal Agency Actions: 

Press Release: Bill Signed: H.R. 4366This bill provides funding until Sept. 30, 2024, to several Departments including the Department of Agriculture. 

Nomination opportunities: 

What is the nomination for? Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committee  

Description: The advisory committee will advise the Secretary of Agriculture on Title II projects that provide critical funding for schools, roads, and other municipal services to more than 700 counties across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The committee will serve for two years unless renewed by the Secretary.   

Deadline for submission? March 17, 2024 

 What is the nomination for? Invasive Species Advisory Committee  

Description: The Committee will serve to advise the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) on interdepartmental coordination, planning, and leadership for the Federal Government on the prevention, eradication, and control of invasive species.  

Deadline for submission? April 27, 2024  

Regulatory/Rulemaking actions:


Agency: USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS) 

Action: Notice of Funding Opportunity for Rural Energy for America Program Technical Assistance Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2024; Applications due March 15, 2024 

Why it matters: Funding available to Agricultural Producers and Tribal entities that assist with projects located in a Disadvantaged Community or a Distressed Community, support projects using Underutilized Renewable Energy Technologies (“Underutilized Technologies”), and/or support grant applications of $20,000 or less.  

Posted: Week of February 27. 

Agency: USDA Forest Service; DOI Fish and Wildlife Service

Action: Final Rule on Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska and Subsistence Taking of Wildlife and Fish and Shellfish Regulations; the final rule was effective on Feb. 29, 2024. 

Why it matters: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior jointly implement the Federal Subsistence Management ProgramThis final rule revises regulations for seasons, harvest limits, methods, and means related to taking fish for subsistence uses in Alaska and the regulations for subsistence taking of wildlife. The implementation of this rule is by Federal agencies, and there is no cost imposed on any State or local entities or Tribal governments. 

Posted: Week of March 5.

Agency: USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Action:Notice about Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the 2018 Farm Bill extension to Sept. 30, 2024  

Why it matters:

This notice provides information about the CRP’s extension to Sept. 30, 2024. 

CRP’s purpose continues to be to cost-effectively assist producers in conserving and improving natural resources, restoring environmentally sensitive land by converting it to long-term vegetative cover, and improving the health of grasslands. The Transition Incentives Program and the Forest Management Incentive have both been extended to September 30, 2024, with no changes.  

Posted: Week of March 5.

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 

Action: Comments Requested on the WIC Food Delivery Portal by April 29, 2024. 

Why it matters:

State Agencies and Tribal Organizations are required to submit to FNS a summary of the results of their vendor monitoring efforts, assuring that every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the integrity of the WIC program. Data collection is done through the Food Delivery Portal and comments are invited on topics such as enhancing the quality, utility, and clarity of information to be collected.  

Posted: Week of March 5.

Agency: USDA Rural Utilities Service  

Action: Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Rural eConnectivity Program; Applications open March 22, 2024, and close April 22, 2024.  

Why it matters: The Rural Utilities Service announces acceptance of applications under the Rural eConnectivity (Reconnect) program that will award loan and grant funds to qualified applicants to fund the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service. Applications can be submitted through the RUS online application. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

Posted: Week of February 27. 

Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) 

Action: Final Rule on Amendments to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 effective May 6, 2024. 

Why it matters: This final rule addresses discriminatory or deceptive practices experienced by producers and growers from packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers. These practices include (1) discriminatory prejudices on certain bases relating to the producer’s characteristics, (2) retaliation for engaging in certain acts as part of being a livestock or poultry producer or rower, and (3) false or misleading statements or material omissions in certain contexts. This final rule is also intended to promote inclusive competition and market integrity.  

Posted: Week of March 11. 

Agency: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) 

Action: Submission for OMB Review on Reporting Requirements for State Plans of Work for Agricultural Research and Extension Formula Funds; Comments requested by April 5, 2024. 

Why it matters: Before formula funds may be provided to 1862 and 1890 land-grant institutions, a plan of work must be submitted by each institution and approved by NIFA, which is requesting to continue to collect an update to the 5-Year Plan of Work which began with the Fiscal Year 2007. Institutions are required to report on things such as the actions taken to seek stakeholder input, encouraging participation, and a statement of how collected input was considered.  

Posted: Week of March 11. 

Tribal Consultation and Listening Sessions/Advisory Committee Meetings:

Title of Event: Public Meeting about Self-Governance PROGRESS Act Negotiated Rulemaking Committee 

About: The meeting is being held as a way of negotiating and providing advice to the Interior Secretary on the implementation of the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination (PROGRESS) for Indian Tribes Act. Send your comments, within 30 days following the meeting, to the Designated Federal Officer, Vickie Hanvey, using the following methods: 

Preferred method: 

  • Email to  
  • comments@bia.gov 
  • with “PROGRESS Act” in subject line. 

Alternate methods: 

  • Mail, hand-carry or use an overnight courier service to the Designated Federal Officer, Ms. Vickie Hanvey, Office of Self-Governance, Office of the Assistant Secretary—Indian Affairs, 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop 3624, Washington, DC 20240. 

Date: March 14, 2024 

Time: 1-5 p.m. EST 

Location: Department of the Interior Building, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240 in the North Penthouse Conference Room.  

Title of Event: March 2024 SNAP Consultation – Proposed Rules on Work Requirements and EBT Card Security Measures 

About: USDA Food & Nutrition Services will hold a Tribal consultation concerning two proposed rules possibly impacting Tribal nations that will (1) update SNAP work requirements to match the ones laid out in the law by Congress in 2023 (Public Law 118-5) and (2) reduce stolen SNAP benefits and fraud by proposing changes in existing regulations that will modernize EBT technology.  

Dates: Friday, March 15, 2024 

Time: 1-3 p.m. EST 

Location: Online only, must register here. 

Link: For the Dear Tribal Leader invitation, proxy letter template and updated scheduling information, please see the ‘Upcoming Tribal Consultations’ section of the Office of Tribal Relations Website here.

Tribal Caucus: IFAI will facilitate a Tribal Caucus on March 13 at 2:30 p.m. CST to brief Tribes of the provisions on these two rules on March 12, pre-registration is required. 

Title of Event: Tribal Forum – Proposed Plan Amendment: National Old Growth Amendment. 

About: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service invites you to consult on the National Old Growth Amendment (NOGA) 

Date: March 27 at 2:30 p.m. EST 

Tribal Resources: Please see the Intertribal Timber Council’s February 2, 2024 letter on this consultation issue here. The ITC calls on the USFS to hold a direct consultation with each Tribe potentially affected by the proposal as it applies to individual forest plans. This requires more than seeking comments from tribes – it means the Forest Service must fully understand specific tribal resource management plans and be responsive to them in this process. 

Court Decisions:   

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit: 

Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation v. United States,  No. 22-2459, (Mar. 5, 2024) 

The Madan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA) unsuccessfully challenged BLM’s approval of a company’s application to drill from under a lake MHA used as an exclusive source of drinking water. BLM approved the drill sites located 600 feet from the lakeshore after concluding in an environmental assessment that the project would have no significant impact, and despite MHA having passed a tribal ordinance that required the drill sites to be at least 1000 feet from the lakeshore. The court found BLM was correct to place the burden to comply with applicable tribal law on the drilling company. 


U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit: 

Apache Stronghold v. United States,  No. 21-15295, (Mar. 1, 2024) 

Congress directed the USDA to transfer federal land that was spiritually significant to the San Carlos Apache Tribe within the Tonto National Forest to a private company that would mine the copper ore beneath the land. A non-profit representing the Tribe challenged the land transfer on grounds that it would violate Tribal members’ rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and an 1852 treat. The court rejected the Tribes’ challenge to the transfer, in part because the Tribe would not be “coerced by the Government’s action into violating their religious beliefs,” nor would the transfer “penalize religious activity by denying any person an equal share of the rights, benefits, and privileges enjoyed by other citizens.” 

Tribal News:


‘Hey, I grew that’: the Native American school that’s decolonizing foodwaysThe Guardian  

  • New efforts led by Tribal leaders and educators at Sisseton Wahpeton College in South Dakota are underway to decolonize foodways by revitalizing Indigenous food systems. Tribal leaders, including President Nathan Crazy Bull of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, are actively involved in initiatives to reintroduce traditional foods and farming practices.  
  • Through community gardens, food sovereignty programs, and partnerships with local producers, they aim to promote health, cultural preservation, and economic self-sufficiency. This collaborative effort highlights the importance of Indigenous leadership in reclaiming and revitalizing Indigenous foodways for future generations. 

 Indigenous businesses in Arizona can apply for 1st USDA tribal trade mission to Canada —KJZZ 

  • There is an opportunity for Indigenous businesses in Arizona to participate in the first USDA Tribal Trade Mission to Canada, with Tribal leaders from various tribes being actively involved. Tribal leaders from the Navajo Nation, Tohono O’odham Nation, Hopi Tribe, and others are encouraging Indigenous businesses to apply for this trade mission.  
  • Through collaboration with federal agencies and Tribal governments, these leaders aim to promote economic development and expand market opportunities for Indigenous businesses in Arizona. This initiative highlights the importance of Tribal leadership in fostering economic growth and supporting Indigenous entrepreneurship. 

Solutions to Oregon’s drought could be found in the Deschutes BasinOPB 

  • Efforts are underway and led by Tribal leaders from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to address water conservation amid drought conditions affecting the Deschutes River in Oregon. Tribal leaders, including Chairman Raymond Tsumpti, are advocating for sustainable water management practices to protect critical salmon habitats and ensure water access for tribal communities.  
  • They emphasize the importance of collaboration with federal and state agencies, as well as local stakeholders, to implement effective water conservation measures. This collaborative approach, spearheaded by tribal leaders, underscores the tribes’ commitment to environmental stewardship and the preservation of natural resources for future generations. 

Wind River Development Fund Launches Native Excellence Scholarship ProgramCounty 10 

  • There is a new scholarship opportunity opening for students, the Native Excellence Scholarship Program by the Wind River Development Fund, which aims to support Native American students in pursuing higher education. The program, led by the Wind River Reservation-based organization, will provide financial assistance and mentorship opportunities to tribal members from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes.  
  • Through this initiative, Tribal leaders and community members are working together to empower Indigenous youth, promote academic excellence, and increase access to educational opportunities. This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of tribal leadership to invest in the future success and prosperity of their communities. 

Public Meetings Address Tribal Regulatory AuthorityRed River Farm Network 

  • Public meetings were held in Bejou and Ogema, Minnesota, concerning regulatory authority on and around the White Earth Reservation in northwest Minnesota. At these meetings, Josh Stamper, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Division Director for Pesticides and Fertilizer, highlighted that Tribes, as sovereign nations, have the right to impose regulations as or more restrictive than the federal government.  
  • Stamper emphasized the importance of clear communication between Tribes and stakeholders regarding regulations and enforcement expectations. He encouraged individuals with questions to reach out and engage in transparent dialogue with Tribal governments. 

Innovative financing for land recovery and economic development in Indian CountryNative News Online 

  • There are some new innovative financing solutions aimed at supporting land recovery and economic development initiatives in Indian Country. Some Tribes are able to leverage financial tools such as Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Tribal Development Financial Institutions (TDFIs) to address challenges related to land acquisition, restoration, and economic revitalization.  
  • Through strategic partnerships and the utilization of resources like New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) and Opportunity Zones, Tribal governments are actively pursuing community-driven projects to promote sustainable development and sovereignty. These efforts underscore a commitment to fostering prosperity and self-determination within Indigenous communities. 
  • The Minnesota-based Indian Land Capital Company (ilcc.net) was established to meet this demand. Initiated in 2005 under the guidance of the nonprofit Indian Land Tenure Foundation (iltf.org), ILCC operates as a Certified Native Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), offering adaptable financing solutions to Tribes and Tribal enterprises.