The Farm Bill’s impact on Native American nutrition is multifaceted, ranging from direct support through nutrition assistance programs to broader effects on agricultural practices, food access, and cultural preservation. According to NFBC’s Gaining Ground, Tribal governments work daily across Indian Country to repair what colonization tried to destroy and reconnect their citizens and communities with revitalized Tribal food systems.
What does research and education look like in Indian Country, and why is it important?
The Farm Bill is important for Native American nutrition for several reasons, given its potential to directly and indirectly impact the availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthy foods in Native American communities. Here’s why the Farm Bill holds significance for Native American nutrition:
- Food Access and Security: Many Native American communities face higher rates of food insecurity and limited access to affordable, nutritious foods. The Farm Bill’s provisions related to nutrition assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), can help alleviate food insecurity by providing essential resources for purchasing food. These programs are crucial for ensuring that Native Americans have access to an adequate and balanced diet.
- Traditional Foods and Cultural Heritage: Native American communities often have strong connections to traditional foods that are deeply rooted in their cultural heritage. These foods are not only nutritionally valuable but also hold cultural and spiritual significance. The Farm Bill’s support for agricultural policies that promote traditional crops and sustainable food practices can help preserve and enhance the availability of these important foods.
- Local Food Systems: The Farm Bill can influence local food systems, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture initiatives. These programs can benefit Native American communities by increasing access to fresh, locally grown foods. Supporting local food systems can provide Native Americans with better access to fresh produce, which is essential for a balanced and healthy diet.
- Nutrition Education: Some versions of the Farm Bill include provisions for nutrition education and outreach programs. These programs can help educate Native American communities about healthy eating habits, food preparation, and the benefits of consuming a diverse range of nutritious foods. By promoting nutrition education, the Farm Bill can contribute to improved dietary choices and overall health.
- Health and Wellness: Native American communities often experience higher rates of diet-related health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The Farm Bill’s impact on nutrition policies, food assistance programs, and agricultural practices can influence the prevalence of these health conditions. Positive changes in the bill can contribute to improved health outcomes for Native Americans.
- Sovereignty and Self-Determination: Many Native American communities prioritize self-determination and sovereignty over their food systems. The FDPIR pilot program is one of the programs in which Tribes can exercise their self-determination and sovereignty. The Farm Bill’s provisions related to land use, agricultural support, and rural development can affect the ability of Native American tribes and organizations to develop sustainable and culturally appropriate food systems that align with their values and needs. NFBC is working to expand sovereignty and self-determination through permanent 638 FDPIR and 638 SNAP.
Find the Native Farm Bill Coalition’s priorities for the next Farm Bill here.
Marker Bills Regarding Nutrition
S.2537, Tribal Nutrition Program Administration Act of 2023 A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to improve access to the food distribution program on Indian reservations, and for other purposes. S. 2540, Tribal Nutrition Flexibility Act of 2023 A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to allow for increased flexibility in the food distribution program on Indian reservations, and for other purposes. S.2563, Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act A bill to amend the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to allow for dual enrollment in the supplemental nutrition assistance program and the food distribution program on Indian reservations. S.2757 TheTribal Food Sovereignty Act A bill to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into self-determination contracts with Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations to carry out supplemental nutritional assistance programs. S.2354, the Improving Agriculture, Research, Cultivation, Timber and Indigenous Commodities A bill to improve access to healthy foods, food processing, housing, forestry, agricultural research, and other agricultural programs, and Tribal self-determination relating to those programs, in the State of Alaska, and for other purposes. S.2489-FDPIR Tribal Food Sovereignty Act of 2023 A bill to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into self-determination contracts with Tribal organizations to carry out the food distribution program on Indian reservations, and for other purposes.
There are no bills at this time.