Policy Brief – October 10, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary:

October 13 is the final day for Tribes and ITOs to submit comment to USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s proposed parity rules impacting FDPIR and CSFP. Check out the IFAI resources and draft letter for those ITOs and Tribes interested here.

The House of Representatives remains without a speaker, meaning moving legislation is a significant challenge. Two Federal Register notices pertain to the availability of funding through the Emergency Livestock Relief Program.

In Tribal News, the Indian Forest Management Assessment Team (IFMAT) published its 2023 assessment of Indian forest lands, noting their risk from climate change, insects, disease, and fire due to chronic underfunding and understaffing, while three Nebraska Tribes work to purchase back historical lands.

Congressional Updates 

Looking back:

There were no scheduled Congressional hearings during the week of October 2 relevant to Tribal food and agriculture. 

Looking ahead:

No scheduled Congressional hearings during the week of October 2nd were relevant to Tribal food and agriculture at the time of publication.   

Executive branch orders and federal agency actions:

Regulatory/Rulemaking Actions: 

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service
Action: Proposed Rule on Food Distribution Programs: Improving Access and Parity; comments are due by October 13, 2023
Why it matters:  For several years, Tribal leaders and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have been advocating for better access to and parity among federal food distribution programs. 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) 

Posted: Week of August 21st  

Please read the IFAI policy analysis, ITO worksheet on proposed changes and the draft comment template for organizations that may be impacted by these changes here. 

Agency: USDA Risk Management Agency 
Action: Submission for OMB Review: Comment Request by November 3, 2023
Why it matters: If producers and insurance companies do not submit the required data at the specified time, accurate liabilities, premium, and subsidies may not be determined, errors may not be resolved timely, producers may not receive accurate indemnities, payments may be late, crop insurance may not be actuarially sound as mandated by the Act. 

Posted: Week of October 9th   

Agency: USDA Farm Services Agency
Action: Notice of Funds Availability; 2021 Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP) Phase 2; Effective September 27, 2023
Why it matters: For each eligible livestock producer with an approved 2021 LFP application who previously received an ELRP Phase 1 payment, FSA will issue an ELRP Phase 2 payment to assist with losses in the value of winter forage from the deterioration of grazing cover due to a qualifying drought or wildfire during the 2021 normal grazing period, which has been exacerbated by the continued lack of precipitation.  The ELRP Phase 2 payment will be equal to 20 percent of the 2021 gross ELRP Phase 1 payment   Eligible livestock producers are not required to submit an application for ELRP Phase 2, however, producers must have all required supplemental forms on file with FSA to be eligible for the payment.   

Posted: Week of October 2nd 

Agency: USDA Farm Services Agency
Action: Notice of Funds Availability; Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP) 2022; Effective September 27, 2023
Why it matters: ELRP 2022 will provide payments to producers who faced increased supplemental feed costs because of forage losses due to a qualifying drought or wildfire in calendar year 2022, using data already submitted to FSA through the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP). The ELRP 2022 payment percentage will be 90 percent for historically underserved farmers and ranchers, and 75 percent for all other producers. For a producer to be eligible for a payment based on the higher payment rate for eligible underserved farmers or ranchers, the producer must file Form CCC-860 Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification with FSA. 

Posted: Week of October 2nd  

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service 
Action: Final Rule Notice for Child Nutrition Programs: Community Eligibility Provision – Increasing Options for Schools; Effective October 26, 2023
Why it matters: This final rule lowers the Identified Student Percentage (ISP) from 40% to 25%. The ISP is the percentage of enrolled students who are certified for free school meals without submitting a household application, such as those directly certified through specific Federal benefits programs (e.g., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)). Lowering the minimum ISP will give States and schools greater flexibility to offer meals to all enrolled students at no cost when financially viable. 

Posted: Week of October 2nd  

 Agency: Environmental Protection Agency 
Action: Notice of Funding Availability for Credit Assistance under WIFIA; Deadline for submissions is October 25, 2023
Why it matters: Tribal governments are among the eligible applicants for this funding opportunity. The WIFIA program’s mission is to accelerate investment in the country’s water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost, supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to creditworthy water infrastructure projects of national and regional significance. Some of the eligible projects include repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of drinking water, wastewater, or stormwater infrastructure; and drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects.  

Posted: Week of September 25th  

Agency: Department of Treasury
Action: Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds; notice of interim final rule – comments must be received on or before November 20, 2023
Why it matters: Treasury seeks comment on sections addressing the new eligible uses, Emergency Relief from Natural Disasters, Surface Transportation projects, and Title I projects. Treasury encourages state, local, and Tribal governments in particular to provide feedback and to engage with Treasury regarding issues that may arise regarding the new eligible uses. 

Posted: Week of September 25th  


Tribal Consultation/Listening Sessions: 

No Tribal consultation/ listening sessions were scheduled at the time of publication.  

Supreme and Circuit Court Decisions: 

U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota:   

Chase v. Andeavor Logistics L.P. No. 1:19-cv-00143 (D.N.D, Aug. 8, 2023) (On remand from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit) 

A pipeline company planning an operation through Tribal and allotted lands secured permission from the Tribal Nations to operate, but could not reach an agreement with individuals who owned allotted lands held in trust by the United States. The owners filed trespass and constructive trust claims against the pipeline company. The court ruled that individual Indians who are equitable owners of allotted lands held in trust by the United States may not assert a federal common law cause for action for trespass. 

Tribal News:

SDSU receives funding to train Latinx and Indigenous students for sustainable food and agriculture careers KYMA Yuma Channel 13 

  • San Diego State University received a $5 million grant to train students in sustainable agriculture and food careers.  
  • Educators will include food scientists, Indigenous plant experts, climate change biologists, and water resource professionals. 


Environmental Sciences Student Selected for Prestigious United Nations Indigenous Youth ForumOregon Tech  

  • Tanikwah Lang, a senior in environmental sciences, has been selected to go to the UN Global Indigenous Youth Forum in Rome, Italy, this month. Lang was born and raised in the Klamath Basin and is a member of the Klamath Tribes. 
  • The United Nations Global Indigenous Youth Forum brings together Indigenous Youth, nations, UN organizations, academic institutions, research facilities, and other stakeholders to talk about important topics like food security, sustainable agriculture, and the maintenance of Indigenous cultures and traditions. 


Capitol chaos delays Florida farm bill listening sessionsThe Apopka Voice 

  • Two listening sessions scheduled by Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson on the U.S. Farm bill have been postponed “due to unforeseen circumstances.” 
  • A flyer for Rep. Kat Cammack’s session said that the sessions intended to give “farmers, ranchers, and growers the chance to voice their concerns and thoughts on upcoming agricultural issues, such as the Farm Bill and other emerging federal, state, and local issues impacting Florida’s agriculture industry.”  
  • In the forthcoming farm bill, Native American agriculture leaders are requesting an increase in the control of Tribes over U.S. Department of Agriculture programs. 


Three Nebraska Tribes are done losing land. Now they’re buying. Flatwater Free Press 

  • Three Nebraskan Tribes—the Winnebago, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, and the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska—have together bought an estimated 3,000 acres of former Tribal lands during the last five years. 
  • The Winnebago Tribe spent nearly $10,000 per acre, on average, to buy back 340 acres of ag land. That’s about $3,000 higher than the northeast region of Nebraska’s 2022 average.   


Ken Burns discusses heartbreak & hope of ‘The American Buffalo,’ his new documentaryMongabay 

  • Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns offers tales that illuminate the subtleties and intricacies of the cultural fabric of the United States. Burns has focused his camera on the American buffalo this time since it is a representation of the huge North American prairies. 
  • The film follows the American bison on its perilous trip, which historian Rosalyn LaPier divides into two separate stories. One is a history of the intimate relationship that has developed over millennia between Native American cultures and the buffalo. The other is a more somber account of how European settlers and then Americans nearly wiped out the buffalo. 


Tribal Forests at Risk from Unfair Federal FundingTribal Business News 

  • The fourth Indian Forest Management Assessment Team (IFMAT) has written a report regarding Tribal forests and the federal government’s funding shortfalls. 
  • IFMAT reported that Indian forests are at risk of loss from climate change, insects, disease, and fire due to chronic underfunding and understaffing that has persisted for decades. IFMAT found an annual increase of $96 million is needed to reach per-acre parity with National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands.