The Model Food and Agriculture Code Project is coordinated by the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. The Model Tribal Food and Agriculture Code Project serves as a resource for Tribal governments, providing a comprehensive set of model laws for review, adoption, and implementation. The model laws contained in the code were designed by IFAI and contributing attorneys to facilitate agricultural production, food systems development, and health outcomes improvement in Indian Country.
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We are grateful to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community through their Seeds of Native Health campaign, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Agua Fund and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for their generous support of the Project.
Advisory body for the Project
The Advisory Body is a panel of experts who periodically advised the Project Team, helping to shape the content of the code work as well as the ultimate delivery and presentation of the code to Tribal governments. This body was assembled quickly in the first part of Phase I and convened its first gathering on November 20, 2015, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Half the members attended in person, and half attended via distance technology. The second meeting, conducted entirely via distance technology, occurred on February 29, 2016. Summaries of these meetings, and a draft agenda for the third, can be found below, following the list of Advisory Body membership.
All members have recognized expertise in an area that is critical to the successful drafting and delivery of the code. The body includes experts in agricultural production, agricultural economics, Tribal law and governance, federal Indian law, land tenure in Indian Country, Tribal economic development, the role of Native beginning farmers and ranchers, and more. Over the course of Phase I, new members were added to this body as it became apparent that their expertise would be relevant.
Chris Georgacas, President/CEO, Goff Public (representing Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community) Minneapolis
Julie Ralston-Aoki, Staff Attorney, Public Health Law Center
Joel Williams, Staff Attorney, Native American Rights Fund
Billy Barquin, General Counsel, Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
Carrie Frias, General Counsel, Pueblo of Pojoaque
Derrick Lente, Rancher and Member of the Council for Native American Farming & Ranching (USDA)
Sara Hill, Secretary of Natural Resources, Cherokee Nation
Crystal Echo Hawk, President/CEO, Echo Hawk Consulting
Adae Romero Briones, Attorney Advisor
Abi Fain, Attorney, Pipestem Law
Dr. H.L. Goodwin, Professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Arkansas School of Law
Kelsey Ducheneaux, Youth advisor
Marcus Grignon, Youth advisor
Kekek Jason Stark, Lead Attorney, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Why a Model Food Code Project?
In 2015, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative was honored to receive funding support from three critical partners that each brought resources forward to support the building of a “Model Comprehensive Food and Agriculture Code for Indian Country” (Project). Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (as part of their Seeds of Native Health campaign launched in 2015) brought our initial support in the amount of $250,000 with a match from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger in the amount of $50,000. Agua Fund, Inc. approached us shortly thereafter and brought an additional $50,000 for year one and $50,000 for year two to support this work. We are deeply grateful for each of our founding funding partners’ commitments, belief in our work, and generosity to launch this work that we believe will be one of the more foundational actions to realize true tribal food sovereignty, improvement in native health and well-being by controlling the policy environment surrounding food and agriculture, and improvement in food access and food-based prosperity in our communities.
During this initial reporting period, the Model Food Code Project Team has gained valuable insights into the needs and challenges of Tribal governments, citizens, producers, and food businesses, all of which may be remedied by the passage of the model laws produced by Project Team. These insights have come from across Indian Country through a series of in-person Regional Roundtables. Community and leadership engagement in Indian Country is absolutely necessary at each stage as this project moves forward.
At each Regional Roundtable, Project Team members presented a brief overview of the project, then dialogued with attendees about the needs and challenges that are important in their Tribal community surrounding food and agriculture. The responses from attendees have been wholly positive and incredibly varied, covering topics from incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge in production, to conservation of land to taxes and land leasing regulations. Many suggestions from attendees relate to the code’s content/sections, but the Project Team has also received many comments about the format and delivery method of the code as well as deep questions about Tribal sovereignty as expressed through the code. To date, the Project Team has conducted nearly 20 Regional Roundtables with more to follow in the months and years ahead.