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The USDA Seeks Nominations for its Tribal Advisory Committee

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that it will seat the Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) that Congress authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill to advise and guide the Secretary of Agriculture on matters relating to Tribal and Indian affairs. Indian Tribes, Tribal organizations, or national or regional organizations with expertise in issues relating to USDA programs and policies may submit nominations for consideration. The 11-member committee will provide critical input and perspective on agriculture in Indian Country.


"Seating the Tribal Advisory Committee is critical to ensuring the USDA comprehends the full breadth of agriculture-related issues Tribal producers and Tribal Nations encounter," said Kari Jo Lawrence, Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) Executive Director. "As my predecessors at IAC shared with Congress in the lead-up to the 2018 Farm Bill, Tribal producers often encounter unique challenges in accessing USDA programs because of bureaucratic processes. The TAC provides a direct way to address these challenges as they arise."


For over 35 years, IAC has worked with Tribal producers and Tribes to navigate USDA programming as it relates to the diversity of each Tribe, often varying on factors such as the state and county where a Tribe resides, remote agricultural locations, Bureau of Indian Affairs relationships, and more. Indian Country comprises 574 federally recognized tribes to which the USDA owes a trust obligation, each with different land bases, geographies, natural resources, and economies. While not a replacement for Tribal consultation, the TAC will be able to bring more immediate attention to issues plaguing USDA programming in Indian Country.


The formation of the TAC highlights the value of Tribal voices being present in every Farm Bill. In 2018, the Native Farm Bill Coalition's advocacy efforts bolstered the voices of Tribal leaders who called on Congress to make the Council on Native American Farming and Ranching a permanent federal advisory committee. Congress responded by authorizing the establishment of the TAC.


IAC would like to encourage the nomination of qualified candidates for this critical role to ensure that Tribal producers are well-represented on the TAC and Tribal Nations are informed of the impact USDA programs can have on their communities and their sovereignty. See below for more information about the nomination process.

 

USDA seeks nominations from federally recognized tribes, Alaska Native Corporations, tribal organizations that are arms and instrumentalities of tribes or democratically elected by their community, or national or regional organizations with expertise in tribal food and agriculture issues. TAC members will be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, and the chairpersons and ranking members of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and the House Committee on Agriculture.

Nominations for membership to serve on this advisory committee are open through August 14, 2023.

Read the USDA press release here.

Find instructions for submitting nominations here.

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