Policy Brief – January 30, 2024

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Policy Brief Summary

This week, the House Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing on land consolidation in Indian Country.  There are opportunities to provide feedback to federal agencies in the next couple of weeks including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hosting a listening session for Tribes on February 9 on front of packaging labeling. 

In advance of the listening session, IFAI is hosting a Tribal Caucus on February 5. (Sign up for the Tribal Caucus hosted by IFAI on February 5 here)

Additionally, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is holding the first of three 2024 consultations with the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations Programs and Tribal Leaders Group on February 16 in Washington D.C.

This week, Tribal News articles highlight federal investments in Tribal communities, including large contributions to Tribal colleges.  

Congressional updates   

Looking Back

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

Looking Ahead

Hearing: House Natural Resources Committee– Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at 10:15 a.m. EST 

Topic: Land Consolidation in Indian Country 

Witnesses: Not listed 


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: Department of Labor 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 

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:   


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

Tribal News:

Tribe receives $500K grant to create small business loansTahlequah Daily Press 

  • The Cherokee Nation received a $500,000 Rural Business Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support Cherokee citizen-owned businesses and create community-based jobs, including agricultural jobs.  
  • “I measure our success as a tribe by looking at our individuals and the opportunities they have. This opportunity allows us to support small, Cherokee-owned businesses and jobs for Cherokee families,” said Deputy Chief Warner. “We can pave the way for those who want to be an entrepreneur, who want to show their kids a new way to live and who want to break generational trauma. Anytime we are given the opportunity to help strengthen our communities, we must take it.” 


NIFA Awards $350,000 to Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College —Central ND News 

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $350,000 to Nueta Hidasta Sahnish College to fund their Trauma-Focused Equine Assisted Learning curricula and outcomes. 
  • This project is collaborating with North Dakota State University under its New Discovery focus of the Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program. This assists Tribal colleges in building institutional research capacity through applied projects that address their students’ educational needs while meeting community, reservations, and regional challenges. 


Tribal and Environmental Organizations Sue to Stop Delta Tunnel Project  —San Francisco Baykeeper 

  • A group of environmental and Tribal organizations filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Water Resources on Jan. 22 in the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, alleging that the agency violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 
  • “The tunnel will also destroy Tribal sites that have been in use for thousands of years, along with the cultural practices associated with them. The agency’s CEQA review failed to consider the tunnel’s cultural implications for the Delta’s Tribal peoples who continue to rely on the Delta for their survival, and for whom the Delta is a fundamental part of their histories,” the coalition stated. 
  • The collapse of Klamath/Trinity salmon flows and fall-run Chinook salmon numbers in the Sacramento River led to the shutdown of ocean and river salmon fishing in California last year, and it is likely to happen again this year. 


 NIFA Invests $4.45M in Tribal Colleges Research —USDA 

  • For reservation communities, the 1994 Land-grant Universities (LGUs) frequently act as the main source of scientific information, scholarship, and education. They are able to handle issues that are important to these communities, like preserving the woods and keeping an eye on the quality of the water, thanks to this financing. Initiatives could assist a tribe in controlling invasive species, enhancing the production of their bison herd, or determining whether traditional botanicals can aid with diabetes management. The grant’s criterion for partnerships makes sure that the newest LGUs may access resources and knowledge from other federal and LGU research bodies. 


Agriculture RoundupICT News 

  • Xochitl Torres Small, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, visited the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona this week to make an announcement about a nearly $10 million award intended to give tribe members access to fiber-based, high-speed internet. Although owning a home is out of reach for many, there is assistance available to Indigenous people throughout. 
  • TheA goal of new federal funding money is to increase bison numbers. Three tribally-led initiatives—the Shoshone-Bannock Nation in Idaho, the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in Oklahoma—will get a combined $1.5 million in funding, according to Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. 
  • Deb Haaland, the interior secretary, paid a visit to the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana last week to talk about how climate change is causing coastal erosion. She also went to see the Coushatta Tribe’s work to rebuild regional ecosystems.