IFAI Policy Brief  –  July 24, 2023 

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IFAI Policy Brief  

July 24, 2023 

Policy Brief Summary:  

Another busy week as Congress heads towards the August recess, with House Small Business Committee hearing on challenges facing small, rural businesses, two pieces of tribal-focused legislation in House Natural Resources, House Rules hearing the USDA funding bill while Senate Indian Affairs hears from witnesses (not yet listed) for Native priorities ahead of the Farm Bill. USDA Food and Nutrition wants to hear if their requests for participant information for those using nutrition programs are useful or burdensome. The Guardian features Bidii Baby Foods, a tribal member-owned business that participates in the American Indian Foods program at the Intertribal Agriculture Council. 


Congressional Hearings   


Looking Back:  

Hearing: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, July 19  

Topic: Hearing on legislation pertaining to water rights, including those impacting tribes.  

Highlights: S2166 would amend the Reclamation States Emergency Drought Relief Act of 1991 and the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to provide grants to States and Tribes for programs to voluntarily re-purpose agricultural land to reduce consumptive water use. 

Hearing: Senate Indian Affairs Committee, July 19  

Topic: Hearing on legislation impacting the reservations of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.  

Highlights: S. 2088 directs the Secretary of the Interior to complete all actions necessary for certain land to be held in restricted fee status by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. This legislation would place 40 acres of tribally purchased land at the Wounded Knee Massacre site into restricted fie status to be held by the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.  

Hearing: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, July 19 

Topic: Rural Water: Modernizing Our Community Water Systems 

Highlights: No specific mentions or testimony regarding tribal rural water issues.  



Looking Ahead:  


Hearing: House Small Business Committee, Weds, July 26 at 10 a.m. EST 

Topic: Rural Entrepreneurship: Examining the Challenges and State of Rural Small Businesses. Witnesses include Rep. Kendell Culp, Vice president of the Indiana Farm Bureau.  

Hearing: House Natural Resources Committee, July 26 at 10:15 a.m. EST 

Topic: Pending legislation hearing, two bills of which pertain to tribal jurisdictions. 

  • H.R. 1722 (118), the “Grand Ronde Reservation Act Amendment of 2023” 
  • H.R. 3049 (118), the “Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Exchange Act of 2023” 

Hearing: House Rules Committee, July 26 at 2 p.m. EST 

Topic: The House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule on H.R. 4368 (118), the “Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024. This is a government funding bill.  

Hearing: Senate Indian Affairs Committee, July 26 at 2:30 p.m. EST 

Topic: Native priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill Reauthorization.  

Hearing: Senate Finance Committee, July 27 at 10:30 a.m. EST 

Topic: Markup of Markup of the “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024”. 


White House Executive Orders/Actions:   



Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions:   

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service 

Action: Request for comment by August 21, 2023 

Why it matters: USDA seeks comment on whether their existing practices of gathering information about program servicers and customers are relevant, useful or burdensome.  


Posted: Week of July 24 


Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 

Action: Notice of revised Consultation Handbook – June 28, 2023 

Why it matters: Even though NOAA’s existing policy and guidance was developed in consultation with federally recognized Indian Tribes, NOAA recognizes these documents would benefit from another review and update. Part of this update also includes comments sought on the existing Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) 


Posted: Week of July 10th  


Tribal Consultation/Listening Sessions:   

Title of Event:  Indian Arts and Crafts Board – Nation-to-Nation Consultation and Hybrid Consultation 

Date/Time: August 2, 2023, at 2 p.m. EST (Nation-to-Nation Consultation Only) 

About: The Department of the Interior (Department) seeks Tribal and Indian artist input on draft revisions to 25 CFR Chapter II (Indian Arts and Crafts Board). The draft revisions seek to modernize the Indian Arts and Crafts Act’s regulations, which are implemented by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (Board). 

Registration Link  

See the IFAI policy analysis concerning this issue by clicking here. 


Title of Event:  Indian Arts and Crafts Board – Hybrid Consultation and Listening Session 

Date/Time: August 18, 2023 from 1-4 p.m. MST 

About: The Department of the Interior (Department) seeks Tribal and Indian artist input on draft revisions to 25 CFR Chapter II (Indian Arts and Crafts Board). The draft revisions seek to modernize the Indian Arts and Crafts Act’s regulations, which are implemented by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (Board). 

Registration Link  

See the IFAI policy analysis concerning this issue by clicking here. 

Supreme Court Decisions:   

No decisions relevant to Tribal food and agriculture were handed down at the time of publication.  

Tribal-Congressional News: 

House Republicans start their funding rumble with shutdown looming – Politico  

  • Republicans’ agriculture funding bill, like most of their other spending measures, also seeks to rescind billions of dollars in recently enacted spending. Conservatives have deemed that strategy a “gimmick” that doesn’t make up for what they really want — steep cuts that return government funding to pre-pandemic levels. 
  • In stark contrast to the House GOP’s tack, the Senate’s spending debate is looking as bipartisan and cooperative as it has been in years. 
  • Senators are advancing largely bipartisan bills filled with tens of billions of additional emergency dollars that House conservatives have scorned. Squaring those two spending visions in the near-term could prove impossible before federal cash evaporates on Sept. 30. 

Agriculture-FDA hangups — Politico Pro 

  • Speaker McCarthy’s biggest hurdle to scoring a pre-recess win on spending is House Freedom Caucus members who want even deeper funding reductions, and who are opposed to tens of billions of dollars in rescissions that they see as a “gimmick” designed to skirt that slashing. Those rescissions are dogging the USDA funding measure from winning broad support within the GOP conference. More moderate Republicans are also struggling with unpopular cuts that would affect farmers and federal nutrition programs…  

The Navajo farmer taking a traditional approach to making baby food – The Guardian 

  • Bidii Baby Foods participates in the American Indian Foods program at the Intertribal Agriculture Council. The business, owned and operated by Diné producers Zachariah and Mary Ben, provides baby food made out of traditional, fresh and locally grown ingredients. When the couple’s child began eating solid food, they wanted to be able to offer traditional foods rather than the processed baby foods found at the grocery store. Once they realized they could make traditional foods baby friendly, they set out to make it available to more families.  
  • The Bens also run a nonprofit, and their baby food products are now available at IHS facilities across New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. 

Red Lake Nation’s Food Initiative sees growth as buffalo herd increases to 33The Bemidji Pioneer 

  • Red Lake Nation, member of the Intertribal Buffalo Council, bison herd grew by three this year with the arrival of three calves this spring. The Tribe has been growing and expanding its food sovereignty efforts through the years, and Red Lake Nation hopes to continue this trend by growing its bison herd even more. 

Agriculture department invests in Hiawatha National Forest – SooLeader 

  • Efforts to mitigate and reduce wildfire risk within the Hiawatha National Forest will expand with new funding and Good Neighbor Authority.  
  • Established by Congress in 2014, the Good Neighbor Authority provides the Forest Service a simple and straightforward way to enter into management agreements with states, tribes, and counties. Today, the Good Neighbor Authority is essential in pooling federal, state, Tribal, and county resources to complete more forest, rangeland, and watershed restoration work on national forests and grasslands.” 

Tribes and Dairy Farmers Made a Model Renewable Energy Program. It’s about to get even better – AZPM News 

  • Tulalip Tribes is collaborating on a renewable energy project with a local dairy to not only help create renewable energy and even fertilizer, it also decreases runoff into the Skykomish and Snoqualmie Rivers. 
  • The project, Qualco Energy, is expanding with the ability to convert methane into pure hydrogen. 

Returning ‘relatives’: Yellowstone sends more buffalo to tribes, less to slaughter – Buffalo Bulletin 

  • Partnership between the Yellowstone National Park, Blackfeet Nation, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council are helping renew bison populations across the country and return more bison to Tribes rather than slaughter.  

With Farm Bill on the horizon, US Senator Tina Smith Introduces Slate of Legislation to Help Farmers and Address Workforce Shortage – Press Release, U.S. Senator Tina Smith 

  • U.S. Senator Tina Smith has recently proposed Farm Bill marker bills that could impact Tribes and Tribal producers. Increasing Land Access, Security, and Opportunities Act, “would also provide funding for non-profits, local governments and tribal governments that focus on strengthening land, capital and market access for historically underserved farmers.” 

Equipping the Next Generation of Native Agriculturalists – Red Lake Nation News 

  • IFAI’s 2023 Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit press release.  

An Indigenous-Led Team Is Transforming a Minneapolis Superfund Site into a New Urban Farm – Civil Eats 

  • A member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Cassandra Holmes was born and raised in Little Earth of United Tribes, a 9.4-acre, 212-unit Housing and Urban Development subsidized housing complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the country’s only Native American preference Section 8 community. 
  • Founded in 1973, Little Earth provides support services for its nearly 1,000 residents—who represent 38 different Tribal affiliations—designed to help eliminate systemic barriers and address challenges many Indigenous communities face. It’s located in East Phillips, a neighborhood with heavy industrial use tenants.  
  • In May, East Phillips residents struck a historic deal with the city to purchase a 7.6-acre site to develop a community-owned indoor urban farm, affordable housing complex, and gathering space.