Policy Brief – October 31, 2023

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Policy Brief Summary

The House elected Congressman Mike Johnson (LA) to Speaker of the House on October 25, 2023. There are discussions on the House side of getting their version of the Farm Bill complete by December, but the Senate has eyes on a one-year extension.  

A Senate Budget Committee hearing on October 25 covered climate change impacts on the agricultural logistics sector. The Biden Administration kicks off its Rural Event Series this week, highlighting investments in areas such as climate-smart agriculture.  

Two new Federal Register notices worth highlighting are (1) the final rule about Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards, and (2) notice of funding opportunity for small dollar loan programs administered by Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI).  

BIA has three leasing regulations consultations coming up the week of November 13, with IFAI working on a briefing note and online Tribal caucus for Tribal government staff and producers to take place on November 9 at 3 p.m. CST. BIA recently announced a virtual public meeting on Nov. 6, 2023, about the implementation of the PROGRESS Act; additionally, BIA will hold two consultations on Contract Support Costs.  

Tribal News highlights Blackfeet Nation’s Climate Adaptation Plan; the Indigenizing of ready-made-meals by Osage Nation’s Ben Jacobs; the success of student gardens at the Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools; and the work that the Intertribal Agriculture Council is doing in providing support for Tribal agricultural producers who have faced discrimination from the USDA-FSA loan programs.  

Congressional updates   

Hearing: Senate Budget Committee – October 25, 2023  

Topic: Bottlenecks and Backlogs: How Climate Change Threatens Supply Chains 


  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) spoke briefly in his opening statement on climate impacts on agricultural supply chains. 
  • Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) asked questions about the impacts of climate change on specialty crops. 

Congressional witness Dr. Adam Rose of the University of Southern California spoke on the impacts of fertilizer and grain shipments due to changing water levels. 

Looking ahead: 

Hearing: Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Nov. 1, 2023 at 10 a.m. EST 

Topic: The Science of Extreme Event Attribution: How Climate Change is Fueling Severe Weather Events 


  • Micheal F. Wehner, Senior Scientist at Applied Mathematics and Computational Research Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 
  • Jennifer Jurado, Chief Resilience Officer and Deputy Director of Resilient Environment Department 
  • Paul Dabbar, Former Undersecretary for Science, U.S. Dept. of Energy, Senior Research Scholar 


Executive branch and federal agency actions: 

President Biden and Lead Administration Officials to Visit Various States to Highlight Investments in Rural AmericaThe White House Briefing Room  

  • President Biden and USDA Secretary Vilsack will visit Minnesota on November 1st to highlight the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in rural America and efforts to support local farmers and communities.  
  • The Wide Rural Event Series includes visits by administration officials to highlight investments in Tribal communities as well as in areas such as climate-smart agriculture, strengthening local food systems, and enhancing competition for farmers. 

Regulatory/Rulemaking actions:

Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service  

Action: Final Rule Notice re: Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (to be published soon) 

Why it matters: USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is adding new provisions to organic livestock and poultry production requirements. The new provisions pertain to livestock handling and transport, slaughter, and poultry living conditions; specifically related to standards for six key areas that include: outdoor space requirements, indoor and outdoor living conditions, and poultry stocking densities. AMS expects that these new provisions will address the inconsistent application of organic livestock standards that has likely contributed to a market failure. AMS reports that Tribal leaders did not raise questions or concerns during and after Tribal consultation in September 2021. 

Posted: Week of October 30th 

Agency: Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund 

Action: Notice of funding opportunity for Small Dollar Loan Program (SDLP); Various deadlines attached to steps in the application process with final submission date by December 20, 2023. 

Why it matters: The SDLP provides grants to (1) establish a loan loss reserve fund to cover losses on small dollar loans; and (2) for technical assistance on technology, staff support, and other activities needed to establish and maintain an SDLP.  

Posted: Week of October 30th 

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service  

Action: Agency collection activities for FNS programs; Comments due by December 26, 2023 

Why it matters: FNS is requesting a generic clearance to conduct quick-turnaround surveys of State, local, and Tribal entities that receive food, funds, and nutrition information through FNS programs, including FDPIR, WIC, and CSFP, which are administered by Indian Tribal Organizations. Previously, FNS would conduct one survey per program, per year at the State and local levels. With these revisions, State, local, and Tribal administrators would receive requests for information with an average of one per, program per year, but no more than three surveys about the same program each year.  

Posted: Week of October 30th  

Agency: DOI Bureau of Indian Affairs 

Action: Notice of virtual public meeting on November 6, 2023 

Why it matters: This will be the ninth public meeting on the Practical Reforms and Other Goals to Reinforce the Effectiveness of Self-Governance and Self-Determination for Indian Tribes Act of 2019 (PROGRESS Act). The PROGRESS Act Negotiated Rulemaking Committee develops proposed regulations for the DOI Secretary’s implementation. The meeting agenda includes topics such as priority setting, drafting subcommittee assignments, and subcommittee reports. The meeting beings at 1 p.m. EST. Beyond this meeting, comments are due by December 7, 2023. 

Posted: Week of October 23rd 

Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service 

Action: Notice re Employment and Training Opportunities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Comments due by December 19, 2023 

Why it matters: Approximately 25% of Native American households receive SNAP benefits; this statistic is higher in some rural Tribal communities. This proposed change pertains to a requirement to provide case management services to SNAP and SNAP E&T participants and the merging of some FNA (Food and Nutrition Act of 2008) and SNAP regulations into existing collection activities. These provisions include the notification to inform Able-bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) about work requirements and time limits.  

Posted: Week of October 23rd 

Agency: USDA Rural Development  

Action: Final rule and response to comments re: Special Authority to Enable Funding of Broadband and Smart Utility Facilities; Effective October 12, 2023 

Why it matters: In September 2020, a final rule was published regarding the special authorization through Section 6210 of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 to assist rural families and small businesses gain access to broadband services through 10% of the funding received to construct broadband infrastructure. Eight respondents provided feedback about concerns such as delay in loan processing due to the evaluation of the 10% rule. USDA published their responses to the concerns and deemed that the final rule is confirmed without changes.  

Posted: Week of October 23rd  

Tribal Consultation/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. 1 @1:30-3 p.m. PST 
  • Location: Pechanga Resort Casino 45000 Pechanga Pkwy. Temecula, CA 92592  

  • Date and Time: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 @1-4 p.m.  Alaska 
  • Location: BIA Providers Conference Dena’ina Center, 600 W 7th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501  


Title of Event: Bureau of Indian Affairs – Agricultural Leasing Regulations 

About: DOI revising its agricultural leasing regulations found at 25 CFR Part 162 Subpart B, which promotes Tribal self-determination through management of Indian agricultural and related renewable resources that match Tribal goals in conservation, multiple use, and sustained yield. These regulations will address leases of agricultural land suited or used to produce crops, livestock, or other agricultural products. 

  • Date and Time: Session 1, Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST 
  • Location: Osage Casino Hotel – Tulsa, Walnut Room, 951 West 36th St. N., Tulsa, ok 74127 


  • Date and Time: Session 3, Nov. 17 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST 
  • Location: Holiday Inn Bismarck, Missouri Room, 3903 State St, Bismarck, ND 58503  


IFAI is working on a briefing note and will be facilitating the Tribal Caucus to take place on November 9 at 2 p.m. CST. Updates to be shared on IFAI social media and email lists

Court Decisions:   

U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia 

Hill, et.al. v. United States Dep’t of Interior, et.al., No.CV 22-1781 (JEB), 2023 WL 6927266 (D.D.C. Oct. 19, 2023) 

The United States District Court of the District of Columbia dismissed an action brought by several Crow Tribal members who hold property on the Crow Reservation. These Tribal members challenged the Water Rights Settlement Act of 2010 between the Tribe and the State of Montana. Their challenge failed in part because they failed to prove the Secretary of the Interior had violated any of her trust responsibilities. The Act provides a variety of benefits to the Crow Tribe in exchange for waivers and releases of all claims for water rights that the Tribe or individual members could have asserted against the United States. 


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 

Nw. Band of the Shoshone Nation v. Wooten, No. 22-35140, 2023 WL 6823177, at *3 (9th Cir. Oct. 17, 2023)  

The Court of Appeals held that 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger between the United States and several bands of the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes did not condition the Tribe’s hunting rights on a requirement that Tribal members permanently reside on designated reservations. Reading the Treaty language in context, the Court found the Tribes “naturally would have understood” its terms to mean that they were agreeing to give up their claims to and rights in their ancestral territory and relocate to reservations, but also reserving (and retaining) their right to hunt throughout that territory. 

Tribal News:

Tocabe moves to Indigenize the ready-made meal businessTribal Business News 

  • Ben Jacobs (Osage Nation) owns and operates Tocabe Indigenous Marketplace out of Denver, Colorado. Jacobs incorporates traditional and Native-produced goods in his ready-made meal business, Harvest Meals.  
  • Jacobs told Tribal Business News that his business has increased demand for bison products, providing market support and stability for the Cheyenne River Sioux Bison Authority Corporation.  


Students grow with garden ICT 

  • The Umoⁿhoⁿ Nation Public Schools at the Omaha Nation student garden started three years ago, growing from one acre the first year to seven in 2023. It serves to increase food access to a community without a grocery store. 
  • The garden produces hundreds and thousands of fruit and vegetables daily, which the students sell through the school’s farmers market and annual powwow, donate, and preserve. Student workers also receive pay for their efforts. 
  • The Tribe regularly hosts others, and by sharing their program, it provides an opportunity for schools, Tribes, and communities across Indian Country to implement similar programs. 


Assistance for American Indian and Alaska Native Producers to Apply for USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance ProgramIntertribal Agriculture Council 

  • The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) is providing support for Tribal agricultural producers who have faced discrimination from the USDA-FSA in applying for the USDA Discrimination Financial Assistance Program (DFAP). This program offers one-time financial support to ranchers, farmers, and forest landowners who have experienced discrimination in USDA-FSA loan programs. IAC is encouraging all Native producers to apply before the January 13, 2024 deadline. 
  • Learn more at indianag.org 


University of Minnesota to collaborate with tribal groups in first-of-its-kind CWD planMPR News 

  • The University of Minnesota announced it will work with Tribes from across Minnesota to stop Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from spreading. This endeavor will be one of the first tribal CWD management programs in the United States. 
  • “We have not identified that any tribes have that kind of a management plan in place,” U of M veterinary assistant professor Tiffany Wolf said. “And so, we are now working with Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians Department of Natural Resources, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Division of Resource Management and White Earth Department of Natural Resources to develop some community informed plans on how to respond to CWD.” 


Ag Secretary Vilsack touts programs to help Arizona growers surviveAZ Central 

  • During a meeting with Arizona stakeholders on Thursday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the agency’s mission and the historic investments it is making in “climate-smart” agriculture to support local food economies and farm revenue. 
  • The event included Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, Arizona Department of Agriculture Director Paul Brierley, and a number of panelists from academia, nonprofits, tribal nations, and the agricultural industry who discussed how federal funding is used in Arizona, and Secretary Vilsack gave a speech at the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences Innovation building. 


Blackfeet working toward climate resiliencyHungry Horse News 

  • Blackfeet Nation launched its Climate Change Adaptation Plan, which incorporates “snow fencing, regenerative grazing, traditional harvesting and prescribed burning into its practices,” to improve overall health and wellness of the land, ranging from agricultural uses and conservation to forestry and water management. 


Outrage, disinformation and threats rise up in Wyoming around a BLM land planHigh Country News  

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing increased protections on portions of a 3.6-million-acre swath of public lands in southwestern Wyoming, including the sparse and spectacular endorheic basin of the Red Desert. 
  • Some of the preferred alternatives include: 
  • Designate 1.6 million acres as ACECs, or areas of critical environmental concern, which are given extra layers of protection that effectively ban new oil and gas leasing, though they rarely have much effect on livestock grazing. 
  • Increase protections for the “respected places” of the eight Tribal nations that have traditional homelands in the area. The plan would also acknowledge Tribal sovereignty by ensuring that government-to-government consultation takes place in the future.