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This week's "The Markup" with Colby Duren

“The Markup” is IAC’s new weekly policy brief update to keep Indian Country in the loop on what is going on in the Washington, D.C. beltway. A “markup” is when a congressional committee meets to offer changes, amendments, and to debate legislation, and we hope the information provided in the IAC Markup policy brief will provide the same opportunity for knowledge sharing and involvement in the process.

On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn into office marking a change in the administration as well as in leadership in the U.S. Senate. With Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) now Senate Majority Leader and Sen. Mitchell McConnell (R-KY) serving as Minority Leader, there are new dynamics in Congress. Look for more updates as congressional leadership releases additional priorities and schedules.

President Biden started by signing 17 executive actions on his first day in office and 10 more the following day focusing on COVID-19 pandemic responses, racial equity, climate change, and several other issues. The top actions taken through the executive actions are the United States rejoining the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement, review the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument, cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, and impose a 60-day moratorium on the approval of oil and gas leases on federal lands – including in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

For food and agriculture producers, rejoining the Paris Climate fits with the administration’s focus on addressing issues of climate change and helps take steps towards supporting more regenerative agriculture practices. Further, the actions of Bears Ears and Keystone XL signal a change in addressing natural resources and actions occurring in federal lands, which can have impacts on additional agricultural or food uses. The IAC will keep an eye on additional policy announcements and changes focused on regenerative agriculture and climate change as they are announced in the days ahead.

All of President Biden’s executive actions can be found: HERE

Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration extended the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, included under USDA’s Single-Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through March 31, 2021. USDA’s press release is: HERE

President Biden’s COVID Relief Priorities Plan

Last week, President Biden released his administration’s top priorities and plan for a $1.9 billion COVID-19 response and recovery legislation. While this still requires congressional action, negotiations, and legislation, here are some of the plan’s highlights: a national plan on COVID-19 vaccinations, additional funding to support tribal and state governments respond to the continuing pandemic; support for small businesses; and stimulus checks for individuals. for more about the President’s proposed plan, click: HERE

Key USDA and DOI Appointments

On Monday, the Biden Transition Team announced a few key appointments, including nominating Dr. Jewel H. Bronaugh to serve as Secretary of USDA and Elizabeth Klein to be the Deputy Secretary of Interior.

After the swearing in of President Biden and Vice-President Harris, USDA announced additional staff changes and appointments:

  • Acting USDA Secretary: (until Secretary Vilsack is confirmed by the Senate)

  • Chief of Staff for the Secretary: Katharine Feguson

  • Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor on Climate to the Secretary: Robert Bonnie

  • Senior Advisor on Nutrition to the Secretary: Kumar Chandarm

  • Senior Advisor on COVID-19 to the Secretary: Sara Bleich

  • Interim Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration: Dr. Gregory Parham

  • Communications Director: Matt Herrick

  • White House Liaison: Justo Robles

  • Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services: Stacy Dean

  • Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development: Justin Maxson

  • Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs: Mae Wu

  • Principal Deputy General Counsel: David Grahn

Check out USDA’s press releases: HERE and HERE

In a press release on Wednesday, the Department of the Interior announced some key initial appointments as Rep. Deb Haaland is awaiting Senate confirmation to serve as Secretary of Interior, including:

  • Principal Deputy Solicitor: Robert Anderson (Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe)

  • Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs: Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska)

  • Chief of Staff to the Secretary: Jennifer Van der Heide

For a full list, check out DOI’s press released: HERE

USDA Opens Up CFAP 3.0

On January 19th, 2021, USDA opened a third round of its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for agricultural producers and is accepting applications through February 26, 2021. These new payments include additional eligibility for some producers, including livestock contract producers, pullets, and turfgrass sod producers. Some producers who submitted and received payments will get additional adjustments by modifying their CFAP2 application by contacting their local USDA service center: USDA SERVICE CENTER LOCATOR and all new applicants should also contact their local USDA Service Center or call 877-508-8364 for one-on-one support. For more information, visit the: USDA CFAP PAGE

IFAI 638 FDPIR Webinar and Policy Resources

Our partners at the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) are hosting a webinar on the new USDA 638 FDPIR Demonstration project application process Friday, Jan. 22 at 1 p.m. CT.

To register, CLICK HEREand check out the IFAI INFOGRAPHIC breaking down the application process.

FDPIR 638 Pilot Program Accepting Proposals

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service process for submitting proposals from tribes and tribal organizations for the 638 self-determination local procurement pilot project is now open. Proposals will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 15, 2021.

The 638 FDPIR pilot project was established in the 2018 Farm Bill through the work of Native Farm Bill Coalition and its members. For more information on the application process, visit the: Federal Register Notice

Colby Duren

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