The IAC and IFAI were invited to discuss Agriculture Policy and its impact on Economic Development efforts in Indian Country at the 2019 Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas.
Zach Ducheneaux, IAC Executive Director, provided an update on the historic policy gains the IAC has helped to realize: highlighting EQIP and FRTEP as examples. Colby Duren, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative Director, provided an update on the membership and activities of the Native Farm Bill Coalition and gave a detailed examination of the gains in the 2018 Farm Bill based on their efforts.
Much of the discussion centered around the prospective legalization of hemp as another tool in the Indian Agriculture toolbox and the hurdles that may still need to be cleared in order to bring it to production. This naturally led into an in-depth discussion surrounding the work remaining, and the importance of the ongoing efforts of the Native Farm Bill Coalition to continue to ensure the consideration of Indian Country when the Nation decides its path forward for Agriculture policy.
The session wrapped up with a series of questions, and Zach and Colby stressing the importance of value-added agriculture-regardless of the product-as the best economic development option available to Indian Country.