Policy Brief – August 14, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary:

Congress is still in recess, but House Agriculture Chairman has made statements about the movement of the farm bill, projecting that the bill’s deadline will be extended. The USDA Food and Nutrition Services has opened their commenting period of a proposed rule for improving access and parity for food distribution programs. This the USDA will be hosting the Tribal Consultation Listening session in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a continuation of their sessions regarding the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. 

Congressional Hearings   

Looking Back: 

Congress is in August recess. 

General Ag and Policy News:  

Additional Financial Assistance for Qualifying Guaranteed Farm Loan Borrowers– USDA announced it will begin providing additional, automatic financial assistance for qualifying guaranteed Farm Loan Programs borrowers who are facing financial risk.

Looking Ahead: Congressional Hearings this week: Aug 13-Aug 18

Congress is in August recess 

Executive Branch Orders and Federal Agency Actions: 

Food Distribution Programs: Improving Access and Parity Proposed Rule – USDA Food and Nutrition Services has posted its proposed rule for improving access and parity in federal nutrition programs under its management. While not the final rule, this is the first opportunity for public comment on these proposed changes.

  • The proposed rule impacts four specific programs:
    • Community Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
    • USDA Foods in Disasters
    • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
    • The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

The comment deadline is October 13th, 2023.

President Joe Biden Approves Montana and Mississippi Disaster Declaration-

  • Federal assistance has been ordered to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by flooding from April and June.
  • Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the flooding in the Montana counties of Blaine, Daniels, Hill, Park, Roosevelt, Sheridan, and Valley and the Fort Peck Tribes as well as the Mississippi Band of Choctaws in Mississippi.

Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions:   

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service 
Action: Request for comments by August 28, 2023
Why it matters: USDA seeks comments on whether their existing practices and collection of information regarding the administration of the National School Lunch Program are necessary for the proper performance of the agency. According to 2021 figures from the National Center of Education Statistics, 30% of American Indian / Alaska Native students comprise the population of students that attended high-poverty schools.  Therefore, determining eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals and Free Milk in Schools is extremely consequential for this population. 
Posted: Week of July 31 

Agency: USDA Rural Housing Service
Action: Announcement of Pilot Programs: the Tribal Property Valuation Pilot Program and the Tribal Rehabilitation Pilot Program
Why it matters: Through various roundtables and consultations with Indian Country, Tribal leaders have consistently identified that lack or substandard housing is one of the barriers to a thriving Tribal agriculture economy. Housing and living conditions in Tribal lands are some of the worst in the United States. According to the National Congress of American Indians, 40% of housing on reservation is considered substandard in comparison to 6% outside Indian country. Furthermore, according to an article from the Washington University in St. Louis, “In 2021, homes in white neighborhoods were appraised over three times more valuable than comparable homes in similar American Indian and Alaska Native neighborhoods located within the same metropolitan area.”
Posted: Week of August 7th  

Tribal Consultation/Listening Sessions:   

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).  This draft revision impacts Tribal governments, producers and food industry participants because it adds agricultural products to the list of products covered by the rule.
Registration Link 
See the IFAI policy analysis concerning this issue. 

Title of Event: Tribal Treaty Rights- Tribal Leader Consultation
Date/Time: August 24, 2023, 1:00pm EST
About: The White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) seeks Tribal leader guidance and recommendations on further efforts the Federal government could take to protect Tribal treaty rights, reserved rights, and similar rights.
Registration Link 

Supreme /Lower Court Decisions:   

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

Tribal-Congressional News: 

Rez dogs – and cats – find friends in ‘reservation vet’ programICT

‘Native American’ Or ‘Indigenous’? Journalism Group Rethinks NameBarchart 

  • Native American Journalism Association (NAJA) members will vote on changing the organization’s name to the Indigenous Journalists Association at the upcoming annual convention.  
  • Many current and past NAJA members’ work highlights Indian Country food and agriculture. 

After decades, a tribe’s vision for a new marine sanctuary could be coming trueNPR 

  • The Northern Chumash Tribe is working to get parts of the coastline as the Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary, which would provide protections against land, energy, and other development. This would be a first of its kind in Indian Country. 

The Tonto Apache Tribe to Partner with Heritage Distilling CompanyBevnet 

  • Craft breweries and distilleries provide market opportunities for Tribally produced crops and goods. The Tonto Apache Tribe is launching a tasting room for its products and other spirits from Heritage. 

Puyallup Tribe acquires Fife candy manufacturerKing5 

  • The Puyallup Tribe has purchased a candy manufacturing company with plans for continuing production. 
  • Many Tribes have invested in food and/or agriculture to diversify their economic portfolios. 

Kīpahulu Poised to Become the Next Community Based Subsistence Fishing Area – Ka Wai Ola 

  • The Maui town of Kapahulu is about to become the next town to join the Community Based Subsistence Fishing Area (CBSFA) in Hawaii, more than 10 years after announcing its intention to do so. 
  • Kīpahulu is the most recent community to pursue a road toward self-governance that is supported by old practices and customs. 

3 ways Indigenous knowledge protects natureConservation International 

  • Indigenous peoples manage more than a quarter of the Earth’s land and waters and safeguard 80% of the world’s biodiversity despite making up less than 5% of the worldwide population. 
  • According to studies, biodiversity rises and forests are maintained when Indigenous peoples are given the authority to manage their territory.  

 State offers grants for moving to organic (farmprogress.com) -Farm Progress 

  • Agriculture officials in California are providing funding to organizations that assist farmers in converting land to organic farming. 
  • Applications for the pilot program are currently being accepted, through Sept. 15, by the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Recipients will assist farmers and ranchers with things like on-farm organic management consultancy, translation, business planting, and organic certification. 

With Wisconsin Rural Partnership funding, UW–Madison launches new projects to support rural and tribal communities – CALS News 

  • The Wisconsin Rural Partnership initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has chosen to finance four initiatives that benefit Wisconsin’s rural communities and tribal nations. 
  • In addition to expanding chances for rural community development, the institution seeks to advance equitable, resilient, and successful food and agricultural systems. Collaborations with neighborhood-based projects, regional research, academic institutions, and subject-matter specialists will also be encouraged. 

The Biden administration’s push to grow the next generation of farmersIslander Media Group 

  • The Biden administration and the USDA are working to encourage the next generation of American agricultural workers to enter the industry as the number of farms across the nation continues to slowly shrink. 
  • The start of NextGen has been announced by the United States Department of Agriculture. To support the development of the next generation of agricultural professionals across the United States and to broaden the sector, the program is investing $262.6 million in higher education institutions.  
  • Colleges in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Texas are among those on the list. Some are institutions that have a history of serving Black students, while others are Hispanic-serving organizations and tribal land-grant organizations are among the others. 

WSDA Farm to School Purchasing Grant Applications OpenBig Country News 

  • For the biennium 2023–2025, the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is providing $4 million in Farm to School Purchasing Grants to encourage child nutrition programs, such as schools, childcare centers, and early learning facilities, to buy, use, and promote foods that are grown, raised, caught, or foraged in Washington. 
  • The grant is available to school districts, childcare centers, and organizations that operate a USDA Child Nutrition Program, as well as Tribal schools and Tribal early learning centers. 

Funding available to help increase Minnesota agricultural product salesIsanti-Chisago County Star 

  • The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) encourages value-added businesses and livestock processors to submit applications for two funding opportunities currently available: the Meat, Poultry, Egg, and Milk Processing Grant and the Agricultural Growth, Research, and Innovation (AGRI) Value-Added Grant programs. 
  • Grant applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, and funding for both programs will be awarded in early 2024, and is open to Tribal members and Tribal governments. 

EPA probes racism complaints against California water boardLos Angeles Times 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency has launched an inquiry into possible discrimination against Native tribes and people of color by California’s primary water agency. This civil rights investigation might result in changes to how the state administers water. 
  • The State Water Resources Control Board is accused by tribes and environmental justice organizations of discriminatory actions and poor management that are causing the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to deteriorate ecologically.  

Peoples Food Sovereignty Program Receives $40,000 Grant From Nourishing Native Foods And Health Initiative Char-Kosta News 

  • The First Nations Development Institute of Longmont, Colorado, has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Peoples Food Sovereignty Program (PFSP). The award will help the Peoples Food Sovereignty Program in its endeavors. 
  • This grant money will help the PFSP create the infrastructure it needs for the implementation of its “Farm Production” program, the growth of its “Garden Bed Network,” and its “Traditional Meat Distribution” program. 

Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace and Red Lake, Inc. Acquire Ownership Stake in Arctic Circle Wild Seafood – WRAL News 

  • Osage Nation citizen-owned Tocabe out of Colorado and Red Lake Inc., of Red Lake Nation, have acquired “50% share in Arctic Circle Wild Seafood, based in the regional Inupiat Eskimo Village of Kotzebue, Alaska. Both Tocabe and Red Lake, Inc. acquired 25%, making Arctic Circle wholly shared by three Native-owned companies.”