Policy Brief – February 6, 2024

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Policy Brief Summary

Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee met with representatives from several tribes to discuss how to improve the Land Buy-Back Program. This week, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hears pending legislation.

There are opportunities to provide feedback to federal agencies in the next couple of weeks through the February 9 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) listening session for Tribes on front-of-packaging labeling. 

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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. If you’re a Tribal FDPIR staffer or leader with a commodities program who is interested, please email jvanpool@uark.edu to learn about the closed FDPIR Tribal Caucus this Thursday. 

This week, Tribal News articles range from fostering cultural connections through the Boys and Girls Club to USDA reopening applications for conservation reserve programs and restoration efforts led by the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation.

Congressional updates   

Looking Back

Hearing: House Natural Resources Committee– Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at 10:15 a.m. EST 
Topic: Land Consolidation in Indian Country 

  • Darryl LaCounte 
  • Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs 
  • Marvin Weatherwax 
  • Councilmember, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council 
  • Ryman LeBeau 
  • Chairman, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe 
  • Cris Stainbrook 
  • President, Indian Land Tenure Foundation 
  • Victoria Kitcheyan 
  • Chairwoman, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska 


  • Along with outlining the challenges their community faces, each witness presented a list of solutions. 
  • Each witness explained the importance of more federal funding for the Land Buy-Back program. 

Looking Ahead

Hearing: Senate Indian Affairs Committee–  Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. EST 

Topic: Pending Legislation- S.2385 “Tribal Access to Clean Water Act of 2023”, S.2868 a bill to accept the request to revoke the charter of incorporation of the Lower Sioux Indian Community in the State of Minnesota, S.3022– “Indian Health Care Workforce Parity Act of 2023”, S. 2796 to provide for the equitable settlement of certain Indian land disputes regarding land in Illinois, and S. 3230 “Winnebago Land Transfer Act.” 

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? Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. 

Description: The Task Force provides advice and recommendations to the FCC on how to assess and advance the deployment of broadband Internet access service on unserved agricultural land to promote precision agriculture. The working groups will include consideration of how connectivity can improve sustainability in agricultural production. 

Deadline for submission? Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled. 

Where can I submit a nomination? Submit by e-mail to PrecisionAgTF@fcc.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 Food and Nutrition Service  

Action: Notice and request for comments re SNAP-Ed Intervention Submission Form and Scoring Tool; Comments requested by April 2, 2024. 

Why it matters: Revisions to the SNAP-Ed Intervention Scoring Tool and SNAP-Ed Intervention Submission Form are intended to improve user experience by simplifying scoring criteria and clarifying the information requested for certain fields. The Submission Form and Scoring Tool are designed to enable SNAP-Ed implementers and the review committee to determine if the intervention submitted for inclusion in the SNAP-Ed Toolkit is evidence-based and uses one or more of the required approaches. 

Posted: Week of February 5. 

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 16, 2024 

Time: 9 am- 5 pm ET 


U.S. Department of Agriculture  
1400 Independence Ave SW 
Washington, D.C. 20250 
Room TBD 

Online connections to participate in the Consultation are available as well. 

Title of Event: Improving Indian Affairs Methodology used to calculate facilities Operation and Maintenance funding allocations. 

About: Indian Affairs is requesting input from Tribes on the factors that impact the costs of Operating and Maintaining a facility which should be considered for a new O&M allocation methodology. Some examples of factors that IA is considering include gross square feet (GSF), location (nearest reference city), type of facility, and age of facility. The factors are being considered to improve the allocation of funding and are not related to the total need for funding requested in annual budgets. 

Date: Session 1: Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 Session 2: Thursday, March 7th, 2024 

Time: 11:00 am- 12:00 pm ET 

Location: Online.

Court Decisions:   


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

Tribal News:

The Power of Food: How Native Youth Cook Up Tradition —Boys and Girls Club 

  • Fostering a strong connection to cultural heritage through initiatives like Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Native youth programs promotes identity, belonging, and cultural understanding, contributing to a more inclusive society. 
  • The preservation of cultural traditions, exemplified by the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Boys & Girls Club’s emphasis on Indigenous food, not only nurtures a sense of community but also serves as a valuable educational tool, opening doors to potential career paths for young individuals. 
  • The program at the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Boys and Girls Club teaches their youth how to prepare traditional foods to better connect to their heritage.  


Indigeponics is harnessing technology to revolutionize Tribal agricultureTribal Business News 

  • Chantel Harrison, founder of Indigeponics, addresses the historical water challenges faced on the Navajo reservation by pioneering controlled environment agriculture, utilizing technologies like greenhouses and hydroponics to create reliable growing environments resilient to climate change-induced disasters. 
  • Indigeponics’ focus extends beyond conventional greenhouse practices, as Harrison aims to promote the cultivation of not only high-producing crops but also traditional Indigenous foods, fostering economic development, stable food systems, and year-round employment on reservations while addressing climate challenges through controlled environment agriculture. 
  • Farming practices like those Indigeponics employs address agricultural challenges, promote sustainable farming practices, and enhance food security. 


USDA reopens applications for conservation reserve program, welcoming Tribal participation Tribal Business News 

  • The Department of Agriculture’s Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) allows Tribal governments, landowners, and agricultural producers to collaborate with the Farm Service Agency, offering rent payments in exchange for implementing conservation practices aimed at achieving environmental preservation goals, such as restoring wildlife habitats and improving water quality. 
  • Introduced in 2022, the program enables Tribal governments like the Cheyenne River, Oglala Sioux, and Rosebud Sioux Tribes to enroll up to specified acres in CRP agreements, promoting grassland productivity, soil preservation, and wildlife habitat enhancement, with rental payments based on county locations and additional incentives and cost-sharing provided by the Farm Service Agency. 
  • The CRP program can allow Tribal landowners, agricultural producers, and Tribal Nations an opportunity to engage in conservation practices. 


‘We’re building the rocket ship while flying it.’ | Tribal clean energy and the struggle with tax creditsTribal Business News 

  • Despite the potential benefits of tax credits for Tribal clean energy projects, including direct-pay tax credits and bonus credits for low-income areas, confusion around policy implementation, tax exemptions, and Tribal concerns has resulted in the underutilization of these programs, requiring a new legal framework to navigate the intersection of Tribal sovereignty, taxes, and tax credits. 
  • The Inflation Reduction Act aimed to grant Tribes access to various tax credits for clean energy initiatives; however, market confusion and regulatory challenges, including uncertainties about eligible partnerships and opaque application processes, hinder Tribes from fully leveraging these tax credits, emphasizing the need for clear guidance and expertise in tax law within Tribal communities. 
  • IFAI has tax specialists on staff who are available to present on tax issues concerning Tribal producers. Reach out for more information, agpolicy@uark.edu. 


Starting the fire again: Indigenous cultural burningICTICT 

  • Rhiana Jones, environmental director at the Washoe Environmental Protection Department, discovered the significance of the Indigenous Peoples Burning Network, realizing the shared experiences and successes of various Tribes practicing cultural burning, leading her to continue the burn program despite initial challenges. 
  • The Indigenous Peoples Burning Network, established in 2015 by fire practitioners and cultural leaders of the Karuk, Hoopa, and Yurok Tribes, aims to revive traditional fire culture, promoting cultural burning practices that have been crucial for land management, ecosystem health, and overall well-being but have faced decline due to western cultural practices and land management enforcement. 
  • Conservation programs under the Farm Bill, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), include elements related to prescribed burning or forest management. 


Passing on Native salt making ICT 

  • The feature story explores the cultural significance and traditional knowledge of salt-making among Native communities, emphasizing the importance of passing down salt-making as an ancestral practice to future generations. 


Bill to Support Native American Entrepreneurs Advances Out of CommitteeNative News Online 

  • The bipartisan Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act (H.R. 7102), unanimously passed by the House Committee on Small Business, aims to enhance the Small Business Administration’s Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA), providing direct access to SBA leadership, expanding grant-making capabilities, and establishing a government-to-government working relationship with Tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. 
  • Introduced by Rep. Sharice Davids and Rep. Eli Crane, the bill seeks to codify the ONAA into federal law, creating an Assistant Administrator role, ensuring a dedicated advocate for Native American entrepreneurs within the SBA, addressing the current limitations caused by the absence of explicit funding in the SBA budget for ONAA, and fostering economic development through better government-to-government collaboration and expanded resources. 
  • The Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) has expressed support for this bill. Learn more about the NFBC at nativefarmbill.com. 


New Hotline Provides Mental Health Support for Native Students, Staff at BIE Schools Native News Online 

  • The Bureau of Indian Education is addressing the mental health needs of students and staff in bureau-funded schools by launching a 24/7 hotline as part of the BIE Behavioral Health and Wellness Program, offering Indigenous-focused, trauma-informed support with a team of primarily Indigenous counselors. 
  • With Native Americans facing high rates of depression, anxiety, and youth suicide, the BIE program aims to provide critical mental health services to Native communities by offering immediate individual crisis support, scheduled counseling sessions, and trauma-informed on-site and virtual crisis support, recognizing the impact of generational trauma and historical inequities. 


New Bill in California Allows for Co-Management of Ancestral Lands and WatersNative News Online 

  • The California Assembly passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember James Ramos, allowing for co-management of ancestral lands and waters, authorizing government-to-government negotiations between the Natural Resources Agency, and federally recognized Tribal communities for natural resource management. 
  • If approved, the bill (AB 1284) would formalize the commitment to government-to-government relationships established by Governor Brown’s 2011 executive order, recognizing Tribal communities as sovereigns and partners in managing delicate ecosystems, combating climate change, and protecting biodiversity in California. 
  • The co-management approach may involve discussions and negotiations related to sustainable agricultural practices, water resource management, and conservation efforts. 


Op-ed: The Clear Lake Hitch, and the Tribes That Depend on Them, Face Continuing ThreatsCivil Eats 

  • More than a dozen agencies collaborate in a comprehensive effort to save the endangered Clear Lake Hitch, a culturally important fish for local Pomo Tribes, which involves interagency summits, cross-agency collaborations, and resource-pooling to address persistent threats to the fish. 
  • The complex undertaking to reverse the damage to the Clear Lake Hitch includes installing specialized equipment for monitoring water flows, clearing debris from waterways, dismantling migration barriers, and implementing a hitch conservation strategy, with millions of dollars allocated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 
  • Initiatives like this provide an example of Tribes and local and state governments working together to address conservation and improve land stewardship. 


The Northwestern Shoshone are restoring the Bear River Massacre site (LandBack, WaterBack) High Country News 

  • The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, at the site of the Bear River Massacre, welcomes volunteers to plant 8,500 trees and shrubs as part of a large-scale restoration effort aimed at returning 13,000 acre-feet of water annually to the Great Salt Lake, addressing ecological challenges exacerbated by over a century of unsustainable water use and climate change-induced drought. 
  • The Tribe’s conservation partners, including environmental activists, college students, and federal agencies, collaborate on this project, combining Indigenous knowledge, cultural significance, and scientific expertise to restore ancestral land, clean up watersheds, and contribute to the broader goal of preserving the ecological health of the Great Salt Lake, with implications for the Tribe’s creation story and regional water policy discussions. 
  • While not a direct overlap, these connections highlight the potential intersections between the restoration efforts led by the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and broader agricultural and environmental conservation initiatives supported by farm bill programs.