Policy Brief – January 23, 2024

Home 9 Policy Briefing 9 Policy Brief – January 23, 2024

Policy Brief Summary

It is a slow week, with no committee hearings in either chamber for agriculture committees. There are two events in the coming weeks to keep track of for those wanting to give feedback to federal agencies in listening sessions and consultations. The first is a February 9 Food and Drug Administration Listening Session for Tribes on front of packaging labeling. (Sign up for the Tribal Caucus hosted by IFAI on February 5 here). The other is the first of three annual USDA Food and Nutrition Service consultations with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Programs and Tribal Leaders Group on February 16 in Washington D.C.  

IFAI recently published its legal and policy analysis of the Biden Administration’s Executive Order 14112 and will be holding an information webinar beginning at 2 p.m. central today, January 23, 2024. Registration is required at bit.ly/IFAIEOJan23. 

Nominations remain open for the USDA Climate Change Fellows Program and the Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committee.  

There are some exciting headlines in Tribal news: Native American Agriculture Fund’s Whitney Sawney will serve on the inaugural USDA Tribal Advisory Committee. The USDA has also announced appointments to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. Finally, a recent court ruling on the Osage Nation helps to further affirm Tribal sovereignty.  

Congressional updates   

Looking Back

There were no hearings relevant to Tribal food and agriculture scheduled at the time of publication  

Looking Ahead

There were no hearings relevant to Tribal food and agriculture scheduled at the time of publication    


Executive Branch and Federal Agency Actions: 

There were no executive branch or federal agency actions at the time of publication. 

Nomination opportunities: 


What is the nomination for? USDA Climate Change Fellows Programs  

Description: USDA is seeking applicants for their Climate Change Fellows Program (CCFP). This program allows USDA to hire Climate Change Fellows through a time-limited appointment to work on projects on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts across the USDA. There are current positions open in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).   

Deadline for submission? January 31, 2024.  

Where can I submit a nomination? To Scott Jacobson, Committee Coordinator, 8221 Mount Rushmore Road, Rapid City, South Dakota 57702 or scott.j.jacobson@usda.gov

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 

Where can I submit a nomination? Nomination information can be found here. 

Regulatory/Rulemaking actions:


Agency: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) 

Action: Submission for OMB Review Regarding Blood and Tissue Collection and Recordkeeping; Comments to be submitted by February 8, 2024.  

Why it matters: Part of APHIS’ mission is to monitor and test for livestock disease, which can be done through maintaining livestock movement records and collecting blood and tissue samples. Information collected is expected to identify and prevent interstate movement of unhealthy livestock animals with diseases within the United States. Specifically, the information collected is used for activities such as rapidly confirming livestock disease occurrences through reporting and sampling, as well as tracing the source of diseases.  

Posted: Week of January 22 

 Agency: USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service  

Action: Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Value-Added Producer Grants for FY2024; Application deadline is April 11, 2024.  

Why it matters: This grant program is intended for Independent Producers, Agricultural Producer Groups, Farmer and Rancher Cooperatives, and Majority-Controlled Producer-Based Businesses to start or expand value-added activities related to processing and/or marketing of Value-Added Agricultural Products. RBCS estimates that approximately $30 million will be made available for FY2024.  

Posted: Week of January 22  

Agency: DOL Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (OCIA) 

Action: Notice of Final Tribal Consultation Policy; effective October 10, 2023. 

Why it matters: This final policy includes revisions made as a result of a Tribal consultation meeting held on April 14, 2021, which included representatives from Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Corporations, and Tribal advocacy groups. Comments provided during this consultation session include revisions to streamline and adopt a uniform Tribal consultation policy that broadly and consistently applies to agencies; update the definition of consultation following E.O 13175 and the U.N. Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); and set expectations that consultations with advocate groups and other third-party entities are not given priority over consultation with Tribal officials. 

Posted: Week of January 15 

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)  

Action: Interim Final Rule re Establishing the Summer EBT Program and Rural Non-Congregate Option in the Summer Meal Programs; Comment submission deadline by April 29, 2024.  

Why it matters: This interim rule went into effect December 29, 2023, and amends the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option (SSO) so that program operators could provide SFSP and SSO meals using a non-congregate approach. This means eligible children, especially those residing in rural areas, do not need to travel to traditional congregate sites to participate. Secondly, this interim final rule allows the new Summer EBT program to use EBT cards so that families can purchase food for their children. Initial stakeholder feedback (including ITOs) was generally positive about changes to SFSP and SSO, with some concerns about the definition of “rural.” USDA consulted with Tribal leaders on Summer EBT in May 2023. ITOs shared robust feedback on three specific topics: the benefit delivery model for ITOs, enrolling eligible children, and de-duplication of benefits.  

Posted: Week of January 8  

Agency: DOI Bureau of Indian Affairs   

Action: Notice regarding Indian Entities Recognized by and Eligible to Receive Services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs  

Why it matters: Updated from August 1, 2023, this list contains 574 tribal entities. Due to their status as Indian Tribes, these entities are eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). BIA continues listing Alaska Native entities separate from Indian Tribal Entities within the contiguous 48 States.   

Posted: Week of January 8  

Tribal Consultation and Listening Sessions:

Title of Event: Food and Drug Administration Front-of-Package (FOP) nutrition labeling Listening Session 

About: FDA Tribal Listening Session: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) invites federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to participate in an all tribes call with FDA to learn about the FDA’s work related to front-of-package (FOP) nutrition labeling (FOP labels). 

Date: February 9th, 2024 

Time: 1:00-2:00 pm ET. 

Location:  Online.

IFAI Tribal Caucus registration – February 5 at 2:30 p.m. CST  

Title of Event: FDPIR Tribal Leader Consultation Work Group Tribal Consultation 

About: This consultation is the first of three annual USDA Food and Nutrition Service consultations with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. 

Date: Friday, February 16th, 2024 

Time: 9:00 am- 5:00 pm ET 


U.S. Department of Agriculture  

1400 Independence Ave SW 

Washington, D.C. 20250 

Room TBD 

Online options are available as well.

Court Decisions:   

U.S. District Court for the District of Montana: 

Eagle Bear, Inc. v. The Blackfeet Indian Nation, et.al., CV-22-93-GF-BMM (Jan. 9, 2024) 

In December, a Montana Federal court held that the BIA properly followed regulations to cancel a lease between the Blackfeet Nation and a non-Tribal member entity running a KOA campground on trust land that had been delinquent on multiple lease payments. Eagle Bear appealed the order to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and filed a motion asking this Court to delay the lease cancellation order until the appeal has been decided. The court agreed to delay the execution of the court order but ordered Eagle Bear to post a $1,000,000 surety bond. 


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma  

United States of American and Osage Mineral Council v. Osage Wind, LLC, et.al., CV-00704-JCG-JFJ (Dec. 20, 2023) 

The Court awarded a permanent injunction to the Osage Nation and the United States and ordered the ejectment of the wind turbine farm for continuing trespass. The court has set a damages trial to determine the amount of monetary damages resulting from the trespass and conversion. The court relied on a 2017 Tenth Circuit decision that held the excavation required to install and maintain a wind turbine constituted “mining” and required a lease under federal law. The court noted that the wind turbine company ignored repeated requests by the BIA and the Osage Mineral Council that it obtain a lease and, as a result, infringed on the sovereignty of the Osage Nation. 

Tribal News:

USDA Announces Appointments to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research BoardDrovers 

  • The USDA announced its appointees to the Cattleman’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which sets to provide a framework for agricultural industries and develop new markets for beef producers.  
  • One of the appointees is Verna Billadeaux, who currently serves as the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) agent for the Blackfeet Nation. 


Acorn Conference Sows Seeds of Pride and Love for Traditional Acorn Practices First Nations Development Institute 

  • In November, the Sherwood Valley Tribal Youth Program and Indigenous Community Initiatives hosted the first ever Acorn Conference.  
  • This conference showcased the acorn and its importance to many of the Tribes in California as a food source and art. 


Whitney Sawney, NAAF Director of Communications and Policy, Announced as a Member to the Inaugural USDA Tribal Advisory CommitteeTribal Tribune 

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the names of 11 new members of the inaugural USDA Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) including the Native American Agriculture Fund’s Whitney Sawney (Cherokee Nation). 
  • Sawney is a former IFAI employee and said this about the recent announcement: “I am honored to take on this role as a part of the USDA Tribal Advisory Committee, and I am inspired by the work of my fellow committee members. I look forward to championing tribal voices and cultivating impactful discussions on policies that impact tribes and Indigenous agricultural systems,” said Whitney Sawney on her appointment to TAC. 


Cherokee Nation Fills the Gap for Hungry KidsNative News Online 

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture requested assistance with distributing Summer EBT during the summer months, and the Cherokee Nation, along with other Native Nations, 44 states and 5 U.S. territories, volunteered immediately.  
  • Summer EBT provides $40 per month for each child that qualifies for free or reduced lunches and the money comes on a preloaded EBT card that families can use at the grocery store. 
  • Cardholders can use the cards at any store that accepts Cherokee Nation WIC benefits and traditional EBT. 


Michigan’s Indigenous children receive culturally sensitive nutrition education through new program —-Second Wave Media 

  • Amanda Rinna and her family, members of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, are promoting their Tribal culture’s rich food heritage and healthy eating practices through The 13 Moons Curriculum, a program that focuses on culturally relevant, nutrient-dense local foods for children up to age 5. 
  • The 13 Moons Curriculum, developed in collaboration with the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan and Michigan State University’s Wiba Anung partnership, incorporates traditional Tribal foods into early childhood education, addressing the importance of Indigenous diets and promoting health among Michigan’s Tribal communities. 
  • The curriculum, featuring lessons such as “Healthy Eating in Daily Life” and emphasizing the connection between food, culture, and well-being, is positively received by families, contributing to efforts to prevent nutrition-related chronic diseases in Indigenous communities and highlighting the significance of food as medicine in maintaining a strong spirit. 


Tribal land welcomes first bison in over 100 yearsWEAU 

  • The Shakopee Sioux community in Minnesota celebrates the return of 10 bison, traditionally used for food, medicine, and materials, after a two-year effort by a workgroup to reintroduce them following their disappearance due to colonization. 
  • Two dozen members of the Shakopee Sioux community successfully orchestrated the return of 10 bison, regarded as relatives, with the goal of sustainable and ecologically beneficial grazing, marking a significant step in revitalizing cultural practices. 
  • Another tribe in South Dakota gifted 10 culturally significant bison to the Shakopee Sioux community, symbolizing their efforts to restore traditional practices and ecological balance after an extended absence due to colonization. These bison have made a comeback and now roam the lands, bringing back a sense of cultural identity and connection to the land. 


Sharing a Native American feast in South DakotaNational Geographic 

  • More than 1,000 buffalo recently returned to the Rosebud Reservation, marking the success of Sicangu Co’s efforts to reintroduce the culturally significant animals and create the world’s largest Native American-owned buffalo herd. 
  • Matte Wilson, food sovereignty director at Sicangu Co, discusses the revival of cultural ceremonies through the reintroduction of buffalo on the Rosebud Reservation, emphasizing the connection between the buffalo and Lakota traditions, as efforts in Lakota gastronomy gain momentum with a focus on gardening, foraging, and preserving food. 
  • Matte Wilson’s exploration of Lakota cuisine and efforts to reconnect with ancestral foods, including buffalo meat, lead to a culinary reimagining that blends Lakota and international influences, as he prepares a buffalo banh mi inspired by Asian cuisine, showcasing a fusion of traditional and modern indigenous flavors. 


Osage Nation’s Victorious War Cry After Judge Rules Wind Farm on Tribal Land Must Be Dismantled: ‘This Is Our Homeland’Western Journal 

  • The recent court ruling favoring the Osage Nation vs. a wind farm on Tribal lands in Oklahoma emphasizes the need to establish and adhere to lease agreements with Native American tribes, addressing concerns related to mining activities and affirming Tribal sovereignty. 
  • The removal of over 80 wind turbines highlights the tangible impact of infrastructure decisions on rural landscapes, showcasing the broader implications for defending private property rights and setting a precedent for safeguarding ancestral territories, particularly in rural areas across the nation.