Policy Brief – November 21, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary


Congress is not in session this week, but last week Congress extended the 2018 Farm Bill until September 30, 2024, and avoided a government shutdown by extending appropriations into early 2024.  The House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held hearings to discuss several bills, some with Tribal implications.  

There are four Federal Register postings this week with Tribal references including one for upcoming virtual listening sessions with the Department of Interior to discuss their Draft Strategic Goals on Environmental Justice.  

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is holding a Tribal consultation in Anchorage, Alaska on November 29th to discuss Contract Support Costs for Tribes with Self-Governance Funding Arrangements.  

In Tribal news, several articles cover the importance of Tribal conservation and regeneration practices. One article highlights food sovereignty conversations at the recent NCAI annual convention in New Orleans, where IFAI’s Associate Executive Director Carly Griffith-Hotvedt said, “If we want to be sovereign and feed our own people, we need to have those means of getting food on the table from a processing perspective.” 

Congressional updates   

Looking Back 

Hearing: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, Nov. 14  

Topic: Innovation in American Agriculture: Leveraging Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Highlights: A discussion about the impacts of AI on American agriculture without specific mention of Tribal agriculture occurred. Much of the hearing focused on balancing the role of AI in advancing agricultural technology across the country against potential concerns in data privacy and ownership, cyber security, and broadband requirements.   

Hearing: House Committee on Natural Resources, Nov. 14  

Topic: the Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a legislative hearing on several bills, including H.R.4717 (Rep. Lamborn), “Locally Led Restoration Act of 2023”. 


  • U.S. Forest Service’s Jaelith Hall-Rivera spoke on the importance of cultural burnings and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) endorsed expanding Good Neighbor Authority in addition to H.R. 4717 initiatives.  

    Hearing:  Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Nov. 15 

    Topic: New Mexico Rural Water/ Oglala Sioux Tribe Land; mark up of S. 1898 and S. 2088 

    Highlights: Bills S.1898 The Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Amendments Act of 2023, and S. 2088 – An addition of the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act for amendments and voting is included. 

    Hearing: House Natural Resource Committee, – POSTPONED TO A LATER DATE 

    Topic: Examining the Impacts of the Department of the Interior’s Remote and Telework Policies

    Hearing: Senate Energy and Natural Resources CommitteePOSTPONED TO A LATER DATE 

    Topic: Pending Business

    Looking Ahead

    There are no Congressional hearings during the week of November 20th 

    Executive Branch and Federal Agency Actions: 

    There were no Executive Branch announcements related to Tribal food and agriculture at the time of publication.

    Regulatory/Rulemaking actions:

    Agency: USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) 

    Action: Comment Request Regarding Collection of Information on the Increasing Land, Capital, and Market Access Program and General Disaster Assistance; Comment submission deadline by December 18, 2023. 

    Why it matters: FSA is seeking comments about the utility and necessity of collecting information pertaining to two of its programs: (1) initial report and progress reports quarterly and annually for the Increasing Land Capital, and Market Access Program; and (2) information such as nature and extent of production losses to determine eligibility for General Disaster Assistance.  

    Posted: Week of November 20  

    Agency: Department of Interior (DOI) 

    Action: Notice and Request for Comments Regarding Updates on DOI’s Environmental Justice Strategic Plan; Written comments by December 15, 2023; virtual listening sessions on November 30th (two sessions) and December 1st 

    Why it matters: Draft Strategic Goal 2 pertains to engagement with Tribal Nations – Engage early and often with communities and Tribal Nations to support meaningful involvement, equitable decisions, inform the Department’s activities, and proactively address/involve environmental justice concerns. There are four draft objectives attached to this strategic goal.  

    Posted: Week of November 20 

    Agency: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) 

    Action: Final Rule on Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP); Comments submission deadline by December 18, 2023 

    Why it matters: USDA is utilizing CCC funds to implement the RAPP cost-share program to address the challenges related to trade impacting U.S. farmers and the international community. RAPP Participants may receive assistance for either generic or brand promotion activities as well as assistance to conduct activities to address existing or potential non-tariff barriers to trade. Potential recipients are: (1) a nonprofit U.S. agricultural trade organization; (2) a nonprofit State Regional Trade Group (SRTG); (3) a U.S. agricultural cooperative; or (4) a state agency. Specific program requirements and details for applying for assistance under the RAPP will be set forth in the Notice of Funding Opportunity announced through the Grants.gov website. 

    Posted: Week of November 20  

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 

    Action: Request for Nominations for the Subcommittee on Animal Agriculture and Water Quality (AAWQ); Nomination deadline by January 2, 2024 

    Why it matters: EPA is currently seeking nominations for members to serve on the AAWQ subcommittee, whose appointment lasts for an estimated term of 12 to 18 months. EPA is seeking nominations from several stakeholders including states and Tribes and is specifically seeking nominees who have demonstrated experience with the operations of animal agriculture practices and/or the impacts of animal feeding operations on public health and/or water quality. The goal of the AAWQ subcommittee will be to provide recommendations that will inform the Agency’s decisions regarding how to improve the implementation of topic areas such as the Clean Water Act (CWA).  

    Posted: Week of November 20 

    Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 

    Action: Comment Request Regarding Collection of Information on Operational Challenges in Child Nutrition Programs; Comment submission deadline by Dec. 13, 2023. 

    Why it matters: FNS plans to collect periodic data to obtain information on operational challenges facing institutions who operate or administer child nutrition programs, including State agencies, SFAs and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Sponsors. Collecting this data will allow FNS to provide the best possible support to States and program sponsors and operators facing continued food service operations challenges and enable FNS to respond more quickly and effectively to potential disruptions in the future. 

    Posted: Week of November 13 

    Agency: USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) 

    Action: Notice of Funding Opportunity for Emergency Relief Program (ERP) 2022; comment submission deadline by Jan. 2, 2024. 

    Why it matters: FSA will provide payments to eligible crop producers for losses due to qualifying disaster events including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, tornadoes, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture, qualifying drought, and related conditions that occurred in calendar year 2022. This proposed rule describes the two tracks FSA will use to administer ERP payments. 

    Posted: Week of Nov. 6 

    Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 

    Action: Comment Request regarding Information Collection Requirements for SNAP; submission date by Nov. 30, 2023. 

    Why it matters: FNS is interested in exploring how State agencies define and measure the quality of customer service for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicants and participants, particularly strategies that go beyond the minimum requirements set by FNS; and how State SNAP agencies implement and refine their customer service approaches. FNS is looking to review existing case studies, reports, and data on customer services strategies and approaches.  

    Posted: Week of Nov. 6 

    Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 

    Action: Comment Request regarding Information Collection Requirements for WIC; submission date by Dec. 4, 2023. 

    Why it matters: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires USDA to implement a program to recognize exemplary breastfeeding support practices at Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) local agencies and clinics. Information collected through this program will be used to evaluate components of existing breastfeeding programs and support within WIC local agencies, to recognize local WIC agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services, and to provide examples of model programs to motivate local agencies and clinics to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support activities. 

    Posted: Week of Nov. 6  

    Agency: DOI Bureau of Land Management  

    Action:  Nominations for Site-Specific Advisory Committees; due by Nov. 24, 2023 

    Why it matters: Nominations are open for six advisory committees that provide advice and recommendations to the BLM on the development and implementation of management plans in accordance with the statute under which the sites were established. The six sites are in New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Utah.   

    Posted: Week of Oct. 30

    Tribal Consultation and Listening Sessions:


    Title of Event: Bureau of Indian Affairs – Contract Support Costs (CSC) for Tribes with Self-Governance Funding Arrangements 

    About: BIA would like to determine how to compensate Self-Governance Tribes for CSC when they are not required to submit budgets.  

    • Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 from 1-4 p.m.  AST 

    Location: BIA Providers Conference Dena’ina Center, 600 W 7th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501  

      Court Decisions:   

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

      Tribal News:

      Bison return to Texas Indigenous landsThe Texas Tribune 

      • A group of five bison from the Medano-Zapata Ranch Preserve came to live in a new home in Hopkins County owned by Muscogee (Creek) Nation member Theda Pogue. 
      • This effort is part of an effort by the Tanaka Fund to restore 700 bison across Indigenous lands across the country this fall.   

      Blending food with tradition: Indian Pueblo Kitchen’s menu serves Native-inspired dishesKRQE 

      • Celebrating Native American Heritage Month, The Indian Pueblo Kitchen in Albuquerque, NM is introducing foods based on feast days of the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos.  
      • “Our food is important because our food and our story times happen around the kitchen table; that’s where we are most vulnerable. And so, to be able to share food with not just our family, but with other visitors, we get to learn who each other are and how similar we are,” said Channing Concho.  

      The Pacific Northwest trees shaped by generations of peopleThe Seattle Times  

      • The Stillaguamish Tribe is working on modifying trees and interweaving generations of the region’s people.  
      • “It is the sacred fingerprint of the ancestors that shaped this place,” said Sam Barr, a Samish tribal citizen and tribal historic preservation office supervisor for the Stillaguamish Tribe. 
      • The trees are a source of bark or planks, location markers, and canoes.   

      Western Alaska salmon crisis affects physical and mental health, residents sayAlaska Beacon 

      • According to locals in the area, the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers’ salmon crisis is causing more harm than just economic and cultural disruption, it is also harming human health. 
      • This message was part of a hearing by US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and included Dan Winkleman, president of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp.  
      • Lack of salmon, Winkelman said, “is not just negatively affecting our culture and well-being but our good health.”  

      Rosebud Sioux Tribal Ranch wins conservation awardHigh Plains Journal 

      • For their outreach and education on conservation on tribal land, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Ranch received the 2023 Excellence in Cooperative Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which serves South Dakota. 
      • “South Dakota is home to nine tribes, and working with them is key to the NRCS mission,” said Tribal Liaison Mary Scott. “The Rosebud Range Workshop is one of many ways these partners contribute to conservation outreach in their local community and help people help the land.”  

      Michigan Wild Rice Initiative works toward Statewide Tribal-State Manoomin Stewardship Plan as nation’s first ‘native grain’ designation is bestowedMichigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy 

      • Michigan Environment showcases the most recent efforts of the Michigan Wild Rice Initiative (MWRI) to create a statewide tribal-state Manoomin Stewardship Plan in honor of Native American Heritage Month. 
      • A workshop was put on by the MWRI and the U-M Water Center and attended by Tribal, state, and federal officials, ricers from Tribal communities, and individuals from colleges and non-government organizations.   

      Choctaw heirloom seeds to fly aboard space stationThe Journal Record 

      • A new chapter is unfolding as part of the long and illustrious history of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, that includes the heirloom seeds.  
      •  A planned experiment organized by the Tribe in partnership with Boeing and Oklahoma State University will involve the flight of seeds for Choctaw sweet potato squash, Choctaw Smith peas, and other staples that have been essential to the tribe throughout its history, to the International Space Station. 

      Tribal leaders discuss credit barriers, food sovereignty at NCAIMarketplace 

      • This week, Tribal leaders from all over the nation gathered in New Orleans for the National Congress of American Indians annual convention to exchange knowledge and discuss policy priorities. Many of these issues affect Tribal economies; topics covered ranged from land and energy development to credit availability. 
      • IFAI Associate Executive Director, Carly Griffith-Hotvedt also spoke about shoring up tribal food supply chains: “If we want to be sovereign and feed our own people, we need to have those means of getting food on the table from a processing perspective.” 

      NFWF Announces $141.3 Million in Grants from the America the Beautiful ChallengeNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation 

      • On November 14, the America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC) announced $141.3 million in grants, with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) joining its public partners in making this announcement. Landscape-scale conservation projects in 46 States, three U.S. Territories, and 21 Tribal and Native Nations received the 74 new grants. 
      • The Department of Interior (via the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (via the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service), the U.S. Department of Defense, Native Americans in Philanthropy, and NFWF are partners in the America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC). 

      Wisconsin tribes keep air clean, but pollution knows no boundariesMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

      • Since the 1970s, Forest County Potawatomi Community elders have been tracking changes in the ecosystem, including abnormalities in their ecosystem. “The earth is trying to tell us something,” tribal elder Jim Thunder said in describing the situation at a climate change conference in the early 2000s. “You learn by watching what’s going on around you.”   
      • Forest County Potawatomi leaders made a significant move after determining that their reservation was being impacted by air pollution. They requested a unique classification that would acknowledge the value of clean air and assist them in keeping it that way. 

      Nichols to offer financial literacy for farmers through partnership with Indigenous nonprofit | Worcester Business JournalWorcester Business Journal 

      • A nonprofit organization led by Indigenous people, Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust, and Nichols College in Dudley have partnered to provide farmers throughout New England with a financial literacy course on farming. 
      • The grant aims to educate farmers about soil health and to help them become more financially literate and business savvy. 

      Building a Case for Investment in Regenerative Agriculture on Indigenous Farms | Exploring the Benefits of Indigenous Regenerative AgricultureCivil Eats 

      • Fanny Brewer, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, ranches 12,000 acres of land which encompasses part of the 1.4-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Her family has been ranching the same land for three generations.  
      • “The volatility of leasing land and how it affects your borrowing power with banks has always been a struggle for Native producers,” says Brewer, who also serves as the IAC’s Great Plains technical assistance specialist. “Some Native families never develop that generational wealth, whereas our non-Native neighbor, whose family has owned their land since the late 1800s, has been able to grow their business. Those are the hard realities we have to face.” 
      • Brewer’s ranch is participating in a study that is examining the benefits and barriers of regenerative agriculture among Indigenous ranchers and farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana.