Policy Brief – July 31, 2023

Home 9 Policy Briefing 9 Policy Brief – July 31, 2023

Policy Brief Summary:

On the eve of the Congressional August recess, there is concern that much–unfinished business remains, where neither chamber circulated a draft of the 2023 Farm Bill. Senate Ag, Nutrition & Forestry Committee Ranking Member John Boozman indicated that he and Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow will work during the recess. Leading up to the recess, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing to discuss Indian Country’s priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill. Witnesses outlined several priorities including expansion of the 638 authority, Tribal parity, and more investments in workforce development and technical assistance. The Government Accountability Office also held a briefing on a Tribal Food Insecurity study they’re conducting, with a final report expected in the Spring of 2024. In Tribal news, there are a variety of articles that cover topics from the Farm Bill to lawsuits about fish protection, and the very real impact of climate change on the availability of salmon during a salmon festival in the Pacific Northwest.

Congressional Hearings   

Looking Back: 

Hearing: House Natural Resources Committee, Wednesday, July 26 at 10:15am
Topic: Pending legislation hearing, two bills which pertain to tribal jurisdictions.

  • H.R. 1722 (118), the “Grand Ronde Reservation Act Amendment of 2023” Rep. Val Hoyle spoke on behalf of H.R. 1722, stating that “[the bill] serves to ensure that the Grand Ronde Tribal nation can pursue land claims if any surveying errors are discovered in the future. These rights are already available to other federally recognized Tribes in Oregon… The Grand Ronde is the only Tribal nation with the country’s consent decree and no path to removal.”

    • Passed committee 
  • H.R. 3049 (118), the “Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration Exchange Act of 2023” Chairman Rep. Westermann opened by saying that H.R. 3049 would ratify a memorandum of understanding to facilitate a series of land exchanges between the Department of Interior and the state of Utah to raise revenue for Utah’s K-12 Public Schools. He stated that the bill is a creative solution to support public education and fix the devastating impacts of poor land management decisions.

    • Passed committee 
  • H.R. 4141 pertains to broadband access. Rep. Ross Fulcher spoke in favor of the bill, highlighting the impact that the lack of access has on rural and Tribal communities. Rep. Grijalva, Teresa Fernandez, and Pete Stauber opposed the bill regarding environmental and Tribal relations concerns.

    • Passed committee  

Hearing: House Rules Committee, Wednesday, July 26th at 2:00pm EST 
Topic: The House Rules Committee met 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. 
Highlights: This meeting reviewed the amendments to the bill. Many spoke out against the bill entirely, claiming that the allocation of funds is not well distributed, leaving programs such as WIC underfunded. 

Hearing: Senate Indian Affairs Committee Wednesday, July 26th at 2:30pm ET 
Topic: Native priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill Reauthorization. 
Highlights: Witnesses provided testimonies that outlined Indian Country’s priorities for the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill. Some of the priorities include the expansion of 638 authority, additional investments in workforce development and technical assistance, including traditional foods in FDPIR, and establishing an Office of Self-Governance at USDA
Link to Recorded Hearing 

Hearing: Senate Finance Committee Thursday, July 27th at 10:30am ET 
Topic: Markup of Markup of the “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024”.

  • Sen. Pat Murray spoke on the importance of the Interior bill, saying that it is “absolutely critical to our country’s and kid’s futures… and if we expect other nations to trust us to live up to our global commitments, we have to keep our promises right here at home to our tribes. That means honoring their sovereignty and delivering on key federal investments that we’ve promised, which this bill does by sustaining funding for the Indian Health Service and providing additional resources to support our Tribal families and protect Tribal treaty rights and address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and more.
    • Passed unanimously.

Looking Ahead: Congressional Hearings this week: July 31-Aug 6

Congress is in August recess 

White House Executive Orders/Actions:   

On July 25, 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided a briefing on their study on Tribal Food Insecurity.  This was the first update with the final report expected to be published in the Spring of 2024. The study is supported by Reps. Grijalva and McGovern. Some interesting points raised during the process, many of which IFAI has already heard through various channels, included (1) FDPIR enrollment process is a barrier for those who live in rural areas where connectivity continues to be an issue; (2) uncertainty with permanence or expansion of 638 is a concern considering the expense of adding infrastructure and increasing food production without known market;  (3) income-based eligibility criteria for FDPIR is a barrier for those who earn a minimum wage but still need further assistance due to inflation and cost of food, and this is magnified for those who live in remote areas where a head of lettuce can cost up to $11 

Link to Briefing Notes 

Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions:   

 For access to older, still open Federal Register Notices visit:    IFAI’s Policy Briefings Webpage   

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 services and customers are relevant, useful or burdensome. 
Posted: Week of July 24th
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 schoolsTherefore, determining eligibility for Free and Reduced Price Meals and Free Milk in Schools is extremely consequential for this population. 
Posted: Week of July 31st 

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. 
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. 

Supreme /Lower Court Decisions:   

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

Tribal-Congressional News: 

‘Why re-create the wheel?’ Indian Country leaders and experts advocate for self-governance in 2023 Farm BillTribal Business News 

Murray, Cortez Masto Propose Legislation to Expand Food Assistance for Tribal HouseholdsNative News Online 

  • The recently proposed legislation by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) would allow for dual use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).  
  • The proposed legislation supports some of the Native Farm Bill Coalition members’ highest priorities surrounding nutrition. 

‘We are not going to harvest any salmon this year’: Klamath Salmon Festival lacks salmon – Times Standard 

  • Due to historically low salmon spawns due to environmental damage, disease, and more, there will not be salmon served at the 59th annual Klamath Salmon Festival this year. 
  • The Tribe canceled both subsistence and commercial fishing this year — it was also cut short early in California and most of Oregon by West Coast fishery managers — because of dwindling populations. 

Senate passes Thune, Rounds bill to improve BIA’s trust land mortgage lendingRipon Advance 

  • Housing is a major issue in Indian Country, which impacts Tribal citizens’ abilities to farm and/or produce. 
  • The Tribal Trust Land Homeownership Act of 2023, S. 70, which Sen. Thune sponsored in January, would create statutory timelines in which the BIA would be required to process mortgages involving property located on Tribal trust land. 
  • The measure is supported by the National American Indian Housing Council and the Mortgage Banker Association. 

Montana State part of $5 million USDA grant to rebuild Native food sovereigntyBozeman Daily Chronicle 

  • Montana State’s Buffalo Nations Food System Initiative was awarded $2.15 million this summer, as part of a larger grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute for Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to rebuild Native food sovereignty and recover Indigenous ways of knowing through a collaboration with MSU and the tribal Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town, North Dakota. 
  • The two colleges are spearheading work to restore the Buffalo Nations’ food system, which is based on sustainable relationships and reciprocity with the land and animals over-extraction and transporting food across long distances. 

This Indigenous 4-H Officer Wants to See More Farm Bill Funding for Her Community –Civil Eats 

  • Less than a third of the 22 federally recognized Tribal villages in Arizona receive assistance from Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) services, even though Arizona is home to one in five of all Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program agents countrywide. 
  • The Native Farm Bill Coalition is working to uplift NFBC member priorities to support FRTEP. Gaining Ground, a research report authored by IFAI as the NFBC’s research partner includes insight into NFBC member FRTEP priorities. 

The 2023 Farm Bill Must Address Inequities in the Land-Grant University System – Center for American Process 

  • HBCUs and Tribal colleges have made extensive contributions to agriculture and conservation, but they still get less funding for research and extension than their mostly white counterparts. 
  • The farm bill funds research initiatives at Land Grant Universities in important fields like plant genomics, animal agriculture, forestry, soil health, invasive species, water resource management, and food safety, to mention a few. The farm bill also funds extension programs, which are distinctive forms of outreach that developed from an effort to spread the research results of LGUs—such as new farming technologies or methods—to agricultural producers in the neighborhood. These programs often involve technical consultations, informal education, and other programming for farmers. 

Pineapples In Pawhuska: Osage Nation Harvests Fruit Grown From ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ FilmingNews Channel 6 

  • The Osage Nation got creative with leftover food scraps from the set of Killers of the Flower Moon film and recently harvested a crop of 45 pineapples. The Osage Nation’s Harvest Land facilities also served as a place for the film’s food prep, cooking, and distribution. 

New plan will allow bison to be reintroduced to tribal lands in Shakopee – KSTP.com 5 Eyewitness News 

  • Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) will have bison returning to its Tribal lands this fall. 

Fond du Lac Band sues 3M and other companies over PFAS pollution MPR News 

  • The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa filed a lawsuit in South Carolina’s district court against 3M and 23 other businesses for contaminating their fish and drinking water with PFAS, or so-called “forever chemicals,” used to create firefighting foam. 
  • The 1854 Treaty region, where the Fond du Lac Band still has the right to hunt, fish, and gather wild rice and other significant cultural food sources, includes all of the polluted areas. The collection of smelt from Lake Superior is now subject to fish advisory limits in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well. The case claims that by being pushed to eat less fish, the Band is “losing meals, as well as its historical practices and cultural life associated with fishing.” 

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe sues feds over water rights, failure to protect endangered fishReno Gazette Journal 

  • The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe claims in a federal complaint that the federal government mismanaged Tribal water rights for nearly two decades and neglected to maintain enough water to protect two rare and endangered fish in Pyramid Lake. Federal wildlife officials claim that the culturally valuable cui-ui and Lahontan cutthroat trout in Pyramid Lake have been declining over the past 10 years, despite federal protections and the Tribe’s efforts to preserve crucial habitat.