Native American leaders hail 2018 Farm Bill as a “historic milestone” for Indian Country

Tribal governments and Native


producers win new access to and parity in USDA programs; unprecedented number of Farm Bill provisions address Indian Country nutrition, conservation, rural development, credit, and forestry


The leaders of the Native Farm Bill Coalition today applauded the enactment of the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, citing its 63 provisions relating to Native American communities and producers.

“The number and significance of Native American-related provisions in the new Farm Bill is unprecedented,” said Ross Racine, executive director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council and co-chair of the Native Farm Bill Coalition. “Congress has listened to Indian Country as never before and delivered on many of our requests.”

Passed by overwhelmingly bipartisan margins in the Senate and House last week and expected to be signed into law by President Donald J. Trump tomorrow, the 2018 Farm Bill marks a new high watermark of federal focus on and investment in Native agricultural production, rural infrastructure, economic development, conservation, and forestry. It also safeguards vitally important nutrition assistance programs on which many Native Americans depend.

“This Farm Bill acknowledges the fundamental sovereignty and competence of tribal governments far more than previous Farm Bills,” said Keith B. Anderson, vice-chairman of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and co-chair of the Native Farm Bill Coalition. “It gives tribes greater control over our food systems and accords our tribal producers new parity in access to USDA programs.”

Racine and Anderson credited the efforts of the Coalition’s 170 member tribes, Native organizations, and allies with elevating awareness in Congress about inequities in federal policy and the pressing needs of Native communities. They repeated the Coalition’s thanks to congressional leaders, members of the agriculture committees, and the Trump Administration for their responsiveness to the Coalition’s support for these Indian Country provisions.

The Coalition, launched in October 2017, will remain active in 2019 to work with Secretary Sonny Perdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the implementation of the new tribal authorities and access under the Farm Bill. It will also continue to educate policymakers on Native nutritional and agricultural issues in the next Congress, assisting in oversight activities and urging Congress to further expand its recognition of tribal self-determination authority in USDA programs.

A full list of Native provisions in the Farm Bill may be viewed here. Highlights include the following:

Conservation: Parity and Support for Tribal Producers

Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into alternative funding agreements with tribes and tribal producers in both the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

Nutrition: Supporting Tribal Self-Governance and Management of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

Includes a new $5 million demonstration project authorizing tribes to purchase food for the FDPIR under “638” tribal self-determination contracts

Adjusts the FDPIR matching requirements and funding limitations to reduce the burden of administering FDPIR so that economically disadvantaged tribes may reach more households in need of assistance

20 percent tribal match; waiver of match to enable full USDA funding required for tribes with economic hardships; and ability to use other federal funding to reach the match requirement

Allows for two-year carryover funding for FDPIR

Adds “regionally grown” to the traditional foods provision purchase provision for FDPIR

Forestry: Self-Governance and Parity for Healthy Forestry Management

Establishes a Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project for management of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands adjacent to Indian lands under the Tribal Forest Protection Act

Makes tribal governments eligible to exercise Good Neighbor Authority for forestry management agreements with states and USDA

Rural Development: Building Infrastructure and Economic Development Opportunities

Provides refinancing authority for some USDA Rural Development programs currently within the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) designation

Tribal priority, inclusion and access to broadband programs, including the community connect program, to build infrastructure and economic development opportunities in Indian Country

Creates a permanent tribal technical service and assistance office across all USDA Rural Development funding authorities

Reauthorizes and expands eligibility of tribal consortia and Alaska Native Villages for a water system infrastructure program

Maintains funding for the Tribal College and University Essential Community Facilities program

Research: Inclusion and Parity for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)

Adds 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) as eligible for the McIntire-Stennis Forestry program capacity funding

Reauthorization of support for TCUs, updating the 1994 TCUs list adding a new tribal college, updating the name of another TCU, and creating parity for access to Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) and the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP)

Creates a Native American student scholarship fund for tribal students who attend land grant universities and colleges

Trade: Increased Opportunities and Access to Overseas Markets

Increases opportunities for tribes and tribal producers to participate in international U.S. trade delegations

Horticulture/Specialty Crops: Support for Traditional and Local Foods

Makes tribes eligible to participate in Local Agriculture Market Program to help tribes grow, process and market Native foods

Commodity Title: Support for Tribal Producers

Adds tribes and tribal organizations as specifically eligible under the livestock disaster programs

Credit: Improving Access to Credit for Tribal Producers

Requires a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on access to credit issues in Indian Country

Miscellaneous Title: Upholding the Trust Responsibility

Maintains the Office of Tribal Relations within the Office of the Secretary to report directly to the Secretary of Agriculture

Establishes a new Tribal Advisory Committee through the Office of Tribal Relations to provide advice to the Secretary on tribal-related issues and policies

Legalizes hemp farming and authorizes new state and tribal plans to self-regulate, develop and expand hemp production; also provides technical assistance to tribes and requires that states permit a tribe to transport across a state hemp that is lawfully produced under this Act

Provides additional tribal government and producers eligibility and permanent baseline funding for the combined Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach (FOTO) program for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers

Codifies and expands Tribal Promise Zone program authority to bring greater focus to federal investments in tribal communities in ways that stimulate local economic development

Makes tribes eligible to participate in new National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program

Additional Tribal-Specific Provisions Supporting Parity and Inclusion for Tribes and Tribal Producers

Authorizes micro-loans for local foods in food insecure areas and makes tribes eligible

********************************************************************************* This information forwarded to you by the Intertribal Agriculture Council The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development and use of our agricultural resources for the betterment of our people. Land-based agricultural resources are vital to the economic and social welfare of many Native American and Alaskan Tribes. The IAC has over the last decade become recognized as the most respected voice within the Indian community and government circles on agricultural policies and programs in Indian country.

Recent Posts

See All

100 North 27th Street, Suite 500, Billings, MT 59101 

Tel: (406) 259-3525  |  Fax: (406) 256-9980

© 2019 Intertribal Agriculture Council. Created by Jeffries Design