Policy Brief – December 5, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary


Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on nominations for the Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development and the Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 

There are three hearings related to Tribal food and agriculture this week. Registration is still open for the White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 6 -7. 

The latest Federal Register notice pertains to the public meetings in December, January, and February on the PROGRESS Act. 

The next FDPIR Tribal Leader Consultation Working Group will convene on Dec. 11 during the Intertribal Agriculture Council’s Annual Conference. Virtual attendance is available via Zoom. 

In Tribal News, there are articles on a newly issued plant zone map by USDA, using hemp as building material, and expanding Red Lake Nation’s wild rice to global markets.  

Congressional updates   

Looking Back

Hearing: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Nov. 30 

Topic: Nomination Hearing 

Nominees: Basil Ivanhoe Gooden for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development; Summer Mersinger  for Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. 


  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) will report nominations out of committee next week.  
  • If Basil Ivanhoe Gooden is appointed as undersecretary, he stated throughout his testimony that his main priority is to ensure proper staffing levels in RD .  
  • Summer Mersinger’s main objectives revolved around climate-smart markets and helping small, rural farms and ranches. 

Looking Ahead

Hearing: House Natural Resource, Indian and Insular Affairs Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 10:15 a.m. EST 

Topic: Pending Legislation 

  • H.R. 4748 (Rep. Peltola), “Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act” 
  • H.R. 6368 (Rep. LaMalfa), “Indian Buffalo Management Act” 
  • H.R. 6443 (Rep. Issa) “Jamul Indian Village Land Transfer Act” 


Hearing: House Natural Resources, Federal Lands Tuesday, Dec.5 at 2 p.m. EST 

Topic: Examining Opportunities to Promote and Enhance Tribal Forest Management 


Hearing: House Agriculture Committee Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 9 a.m. EST 

Topic: Member Day 

Executive Branch and Federal Agency Actions: 


Registrations remain open for the 2023 White House Tribal Nations Summit coming up December 6-7 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.

Nomination opportunities: 


What is the nomination for: USDA Plant Variety Protection Board 

Description: The PVPB advises the Secretary on rules and regulations to administer the Plant Variety Act, on appeals to decisions by the Plant Variety Protection Office, and on requests for emergency public-interest compulsory licenses. It consists of 14 members, representing farmers, the seed industry, trade and professional associations, and public and private research institutions who sit for 2-year terms. Meetings are held as needed. 

Deadline for submission: January 15, 2024 

What is the nomination for? EPA Animal Agriculture and Water Quality Subcommittee 

Description: This subcommittee sits under the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Advisory Committee. It will provide recommendations on improving implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permitting program to reduce nutrients and water pollutants from Animal Feeding Operations. Subcommittee representatives can be from Tribes, states, the agricultural industry, environmental, community, and public health groups, local governments, and research institutions. 

Deadline for submission? January 2, 2024 

Regulatory/Rulemaking actions:


Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 

Action: Comment Request Regarding Collection of Information on Generic Clearance for Stakeholder Feedback and Surveys; Comment submission deadline by December 26, 2023.  

Why it matters: FNS is seeking generic clearance to be able to obtain feedback from state, local and/or Tribal agencies and implementers, and program participants to contribute directly to the improvement and planning of research studies, program changes, regulatory activities, guidance, outreach and/or training activities. 

Posted: Week of November 27 


Agency: DOI Bureau of Indian Affairs 

Action: Notice of Public Meetings on December 20, 2023; January 18; February 8; and February 29, 2024.  

Why it matters: The public meetings are being held to obtain recommendations for a proposed rule that will inform the Secretary of Interior’s implementation of the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act of 2019 (PROGRESS Act).  

Posted: Week of December 4  

Agency: USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) 

Action: Comment Request Regarding Collection of Information on the Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program and General Disaster Assistance; Comment submission deadline by December 18, 2023. 

Why it matters: FSA is seeking comments about the utility and necessity of collecting information pertaining to two of its programs: (1) initial report and progress reports quarterly and annually for the Increasing Land Capital, and Market Access Program; and (2) information such as nature and extent of production losses to determine eligibility for General Disaster Assistance.  

Posted: Week of November 20 

Agency: Department of Interior (DOI) 

Action: Notice and Request for Comments Regarding Updates on DOI’s Environmental Justice Strategic Plan; Written comments by December 15, 2023; virtual listening sessions on November 30th (two sessions) and December 1st 

Why it matters: Draft Strategic Goal 2 pertains to engagement with Tribal Nations – Engage early and often with communities and Tribal Nations to support meaningful involvement, equitable decisions, inform the Department’s activities, and proactively address/involve environmental justice concerns. There are four draft objectives attached to this strategic goal.  

Posted: Week of November 20 

Agency: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) 

Action: Final Rule on Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP); Comments submission deadline by December 18, 2023 

Why it matters: USDA is utilizing CCC funds to implement the RAPP cost-share program to address the challenges related to trade impacting U.S. farmers and the international community. RAPP Participants may receive assistance for either generic or brand promotion activities as well as assistance to conduct activities to address existing or potential non-tariff barriers to trade. Potential recipients are: (1) a nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organization; (2) a nonprofit State Regional Trade Group (SRTG); (3) a U.S. agricultural cooperative; or (4) a state agency. Specific program requirements and details for applying for assistance under the RAPP will be set forth in the Notice of Funding Opportunity announced through the Grants.gov website. 

Posted: Week of November 20  

Tribal Consultation and Listening Sessions:


Title of Event: December 2023 Tribal Leader Consultation Work Group  

About: This is part of the ongoing consultation work that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service have with Tribal leaders to discuss and address issues related to the administration of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).  

Date: Monday, December 11, 2023 

Time: 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time 

Location: Intertribal Agriculture Council Annual Conference at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, NV 

Court Decisions:   

There were no court decisions related to Tribal food and agriculture at the time of publication. 

Tribal News:

Indigenous-serving college fighting for survivalICT News 

  • Bacone College, a former boarding school and now a Native American-serving higher educational institution, is trying to overcome financial troubles. 
  • The college is up for a sheriff’s sale on December 14 if a $1m judgement is not settled.   
  • The college is an open-enrollment college that serves a large Indigenous population and whose closure would cause a large vacuum for these students, especially because it is one of the few colleges in the area that has an American Indian/Native American studies program. 

USDA’s first new plant zone map since 2012 shows warmer temperaturesAgriculture Dive  

  • For the first time in over a decade, the USDA has issued a new plant zone map. The map helps set crop insurance standards, acts as a guide for planting, and helps farmers and the public understand how environmental changes impact the environment. 
  • The map is more accurate and contains greater detail than the previous map, showing that there is a much larger change for the Midwest and the central plains. 

Rich Folks Import This Building Material. A Minnesota Tribe Makes Its Own. Mother Jones 

  • The Lower Sioux Indian Community, who live on their reservation just south of Minneapolis, are now the first vertically integrated hempcrete manufacturers in the United States. They can now grow the hemp, process it into an insulation known as hempcrete, and use it to build homes.  

Cal Poly Humboldt, College of the Redwoods, and the Hoopa Valley Tribe Form PartnershipRedheaded Blackbelt 

  • The leaders of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, Cal Poly Humboldt, and the College of the Redwoods have come together to form an agreement that will help the Tribe by enhancing the educational opportunities for pupils and developing capable leaders who can plan ahead for the obstacles the Tribe faces. 
  • Among the stated goals are several of agricultural significance including building ecological sustainable methods of growing healthy foods and protecting culturally significant plants, building the cultural management of natural resources, and strengthening sustainable and regenerative agriculture.  

Where the Wild Rice Grows: USDA Celebrates Indigenous Agriculture, Businesses, and PeoplesRed Lake Nation News 

  • The Red Lake Nation produces wild rice, which is a key medicine, food, and culturally significant plant for the Anishinaabe. Red Lake has been cultivating wild rice for the past 20 years and has grown production by 1,000 acres in the last three years alone.  
  • The Tribe is working with the USDA to expand its market beyond the United States into a global market that is anxious for Indigenous foods.  

Indigenous superfood maker grapples with scaling up production in wake of newfound successTribal Business News 

  • Patricia Mabin of the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians started her business Pemmican Patty in 2019, and since then, the food-based company has experienced tremendous growth and momentum. 
  • Mabin works directly with 30 distributors, including Tribal Nations, and Pemmican Patty’s business model provides an example where food/ag businesses can help generate economic growth while expanding Indian Country’s access to healthy, traditional foods. 

This Indigenous Cook Wants to Help Readers Decolonize Their DietsCivil Eats