Policy Brief – June 26, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary:

Congress goes on a two-week recess, though some legislative hearings took place including House Agriculture’s focus on broadband expansion in rural communities, markup on a Bureau of Land Management rule concerning conservation issues that may impact tribes and a House Natural Resources committee hearing with the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality. There in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rules against the Navajo Nation in a water rights case v. the State of Arizona. Native News Online covers the departure of Janie Simms Hipp from USDA. 

Congressional Hearings   

Looking Back: Some Relevant Congressional Hearings from the week of June 19-23 

Hearing: House Agriculture Committee Wednesday, June 21st 

Topic: Rural America’s Digital Divide 

Highlights – David Zumwalt, of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, noted that his organization works with tribal communities in hard-to-service locations across the U.S. Agriculture Committee Chairman Thompson emphasized that USDA is the best department to expand broadband to rural communities. No specific tribal mentions otherwise. 


Markup: House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, June 21st  

Topic: Pending Legislation; H.R 3397 to require the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to withdraw a rule of the Bureau of Land Management relating to conservation and landscape health 

Highlights: There was much back and forth regarding H.R. 3397 and the amendments proposed, especially around the bill’s impact on Indian Country. No amendments were passed. 



Hearing: House Natural Resources Committee Thursday, June 22nd  

Topic: Council on Environmental Quality Budget  

Highlights: Budget hearing on the CEQ with testimony by Chair Brenda Mallory, with a couple of mentions of the committee’s work with and for tribal nations and rights in the realm of resource extraction, environmental stewardship and federal resource allocations to underserved communities.  



Hearing: Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, June 22nd  

Topic: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. 

Highlights: Senate appropriators on Thursday unanimously approved a bill to fund the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration through fiscal year 2024. 


Looking Ahead: Congressional Hearings this week: June 26-30 

Note: Congress will be on recess for the next two weeks 

White House Executive Orders/Actions:   


Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions:   

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

Agency: USDA – Forest Service  

Action: Organization, Functions, and Procedures; Functions and Procedures; Forest Service Functions – Advanced notice of proposed rulemaking; extension of comment period due July 20, 2023 

Does it matter: Climate change and related stressors are impacting national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is looking for feedback on how it can adapt current policies to protect, conserve, and manage the national forests and grasslands for climate resilience, so that the Agency can provide for ecological integrity and support social and economic sustainability over time.  


Posted: Week of June 12th 


Agency: Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and the Office of the Secretary, Department of Agriculture 

Action: Technical Correction 

Does it matter: The CCC and FSA are making corrections to certain regulations on Phase 2 of the Emergency Relief Program, Emergency Conservation Program, and the Emergency Forest Restoration  


Posted: Week of June 20th 


Agency: Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA 

Action: Notice; Comments due August 21st, 2023 

Does it matter: Comments are requested from applicants desiring to receive grants under the program to determine the possibility of requests to implement activities in foreign countries. 


Posted: Week of June 20th 


Agency: USDA 

Action: Submission for OMB Review; Comments due July 20th, 2023 

Does it matter: The USDA wants to switch over to an eAuthentication system as a management and technical process that deals with authentication and authorization.  


Posted: Week of June 20th  


Agency: Food and Nutrition Service, USDA 

Action: Notice; Comments due August 22, 2023 

Does it matter: Comments are requested over the Women Infant and Children (WIC) Participant and Program Characteristics 2024 & 2026 Study.  


Posted: Week of June 26th 


Agency: USDA 

Action: Final Rule 

Does it matter: The Packers and Stockyards has been finalized to provide instructions and rules for livestock sellers; adding procedures and timeframes for a livestock seller to notify the livestock dealer and the Secretary of Agriculture that the seller has not received full payment for purchases; livestock dealers with average annual purchases over $100,000 are required to obtain written acknowledgement from livestock sellers that trust benefits do not pertain to credit sales. 


Posted: Week of June 26th 


Tribal Consultation/Listening Sessions:   

Title of Event: FDPIR Tribal Leader Consultation Work Group Tribal Consultation  

Date and time: June 27, 2023 @ 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

About: Quarterly Work Group Meeting (Framing Papers to follow) 

Location: 2023 Tribal Self-Governance Conference @ River Spirit Resort & Casino – Tulsa, OK 

Registration Link  


Title of Event: Commodity Supplemental Food Program Tribal Consultation  

Date and time: June 27, 2023 @ 5:00 p.m.   

About: Commodity Supplemental Food Program  

Location: 2023 Tribal Self-Governance Conference @ River Spirit Resort & Casino – Tulsa, OK 

Registration Link  


Title of Event: U.S, Department of the Treasury, Tribal Consultation on the Elective Payment of Applicable Credits under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 

Date/Time: July 17 from 1-4 p.m. EDT 

About: Under Section 6417 of the Inflation Reduction Act, a new provision called an elective payment election will allow for the first time certain tax-exempt and governmental entities to access specified clean energy tax credits as payments from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Section 6417 generally applies to tax-exempt organizations, State and local governments, Indian tribal governments (“Tribes”), Alaska Native Corporations, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and rural electric cooperatives, which are referred to as “applicable entities”. Section 6417 allows applicable entities to make an elective payment election. 

Registration Link  


Title of Event: Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program Proposed Rule Consultation 

Date / Time: July 12, 2023 @ 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT 

About: On May 24, 2023, USDA Rural Development published a Proposed Rule designed to amend the RBDG program regulations to clarify and expand eligibility for federally recognized Tribes to support wholly owned Tribal-government entities as program beneficiaries. Tribal leaders will learn more about the proposed changes and can make recommendations relating to the proposed amendments.  

 Registration Link  

Supreme /Lower Court Decisions:   

Arizona v. Navajo Nation – The 1868 treaty establishing the Navajo Reservation reserved necessary water to accomplish the purpose of the Navajo Reservation but did not require the United States to take affirmative steps to secure water for the Tribe.  

Tribal-Congressional News: 

Big Horn County Weed and Pest implements new project beyond state and tribal borders (wyomingnewsnow.tv)Wyoming News Now 

  • For invasive organisms, boundaries and borders are irrelevant because they will disperse wherever they can. But to combat invasive species in Devil’s Canyon in both Wyoming and Montana, including Bighorn National Forest, Crow Tribal properties, Bureau of territory Management (BLM), state territory, and privately owned properties, the Big Horn County Weed and Pest District is launching a new weed program. 
  • Big Horn County will control the weeds each summer and fall over the next few years using drones, utility terrain vehicle (UTV) sprayers, and backpack sprayers. 

Groundbreaking Native Attorney to Leave USDA Native News Online 

  • Jamie Simms-Hipp, the first Native American woman to serve as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will leave her position at the end of next month. 
  • Hipp will oversee a brand-new ag-financing effort that she began developing while she was the NAAF’s senior executive roughly four years ago. According to the NAAF statement, she will become the first president and CEO of Native Agricultural Financial Service, the first Other Financing Institution inside the Farm Credit System. 

USDA selects 50 farming projects for potential funding — WLTX Channel 19 

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced a list of 50 projects from throughout the country that will receive $300 million in financing. Through the USDA’s Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access (Increasing Land Access) Program, the proposed initiatives are intended to assist underserved farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in gaining better access to land, capital, and markets. 
  • One organization that will receive funding is American Indian Mothers (AIM), Inc. Their goal is restoring resilience in Indigenous and Land-Based Communities by increasing land, capital, and market access for producers, and specifically targets tribal farmers in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. 
  • Another project is Agrarian Land Trust’s Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access through Agrarian Commons. This program is for underserved farmers and will create and strengthen land access with additional opportunities to focus on capital and market access for use in agriculture on a mid-size national landscape using the innovative design of the Agrarian Commons to secure long-term access and tenure and mitigate land loss. 

Grants available to help communities after 2022 flooding NBC Montana 

  • Grants are available to help rural towns in Montana rebuild water infrastructure that has been harmed by floods in 2022, according to an announcement made on Thursday by Kathleen Williams, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development. 
  • Eligible applicants include public bodies and non-profit organizations located in the rural and Tribal areas designated as disaster counties. 

Colorado River drought task force begins to take shape — Colorado Sun 

  • A task force that is responsible for examining the Colorado River water situation for the state legislature for the remainder of the year has had the majority of its members appointed. 
  • Two Tribal members, one from the Ute Mountain Ute tribe and the other from the Southern Ute tribe, have been added to the task force. Their names have not been released as of yet.  
  • The task committee was established by a law passed this year by the legislature, which had originally intended to take broad action on water but changed course after realizing how intricate and delicate water issues are. Before sending a report with policy recommendations to the General Assembly by December 15th, the task force will hold up to a dozen meetings. 

The Senate’s committee-approved bill to fund the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration could be a test run for the farm bill Politico Pro 

  • One target will likely be crop insurance. While moderates hold that insurance should be left untouched in the farm bill, liberal and conservative lawmakers tend to have some disdain for the program’s subsidies — which can pay as much as 60 percent of premiums regardless of farm income. Liberals contend the policies benefit the most successful farms that don’t need the support, while conservatives say the taxpayers should not be guaranteeing income for farmers. 
  • The spending bill could reach the floor as soon as July. Typically, spending bills allow senators ample opportunity to propose amendments, some of which could be aimed at farm bill programs.