Fayetteville, Arkansas – The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) announces its historic investment in Native agriculture advocacy, awarding both the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) and the Native American Food and Nutrition Resources Alliance (the Alliance) grant funding to continue their work to ensure Indian Country agriculture has a sustained voice in ongoing federal farm and food policy. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger has stepped up to also provide grant resources to both the NFBC and the Alliance that allow important leveraging resources at this important time in our nation’s history. A total of $1.1 million has been distributed by NAAF and MAZON.
Native agricultural advocacy has historically been overlooked and underfunded, leaving Native farmers, ranchers and nutrition programs without the critical support they need. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) created the Native Farm Bill Coalition in 2017 as a nation-wide initiative to give Indian Country a strong united voice on federal policy related to agriculture, nutrition, and rural development. Following the historic success of the NFBC in the 2018 Farm Bill, Native producers and their communities saw a dramatic increase in awareness of the needs of Indian Country. The Intertribal Agriculture Council, as the founding co-chair of the NFBC, will continue to lead this effort and has selected former leader of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas, Colby Duren to lead the DC-based efforts of the Coalition.
Today’s announcement marks the most notable financial investment in an integrated ecosystem of Native American agricultural advocacy in the history of the Farm Bill.
“Advocacy is core to the mission of the Native American Agriculture Fund,” said Janie Hipp (Chickasaw), CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. “Native farmers, ranchers, fishers, harvesters and food people need advocates in their corner. Our most vulnerable Native citizens need better policies that will support, and link local and regional foods grown and raised by Native farmers, fishers and ranchers to their growing food insecurity needs. This year’s advocacy grants are going to build the foundation to ensure a better agricultural and food secure future for Indian Country.”
“We take great pride in our longtime partnerships to strengthen food security and sovereignty in Indian Country, and we are excited to invest in these anchor institutions that are working collectively to transform Native food systems and agriculture,” said Mia Hubbard, MAZON’s Vice President of Programs. “We are committed to our shared advocacy to build more self-determination and equity into food programs, as well as advance policies that ensure the health, wellbeing, and autonomy of Tribes. We are honored and thrilled to leverage our resources with those of NAAF to provide this important support.”
“So much of effective advocacy is based on relationships, and we’ve watched many organizations with far less reach than ours be successful in policy advocacy because of their presence at a national level. Colby Duren brings over a decade of experience and the relationships that go with it, along with a commitment to our cause as strong as any we have seen. As the leader of the policy and research team at IFAI, he was responsible for a large portion of the NFBC effort so he’s a natural fit to assume this role,” said Zach Ducheneaux, Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council. He went on, “having a permanent presence in DC is the missing piece between our Tribal and producer-centric work. We thank NAAF for its commitment to advocacy in this important way.”
“NAFNRA was created as an outcome of our work for the last several years making sure that the needs of the most vulnerable Native citizens are front and center and that important natural linkages between food access and Native food production are created,” said James R. Mountain (Pueblo de San Ildefonso), Executive Director of Native American Food and Nutrition Resources Alliance. “While COVID-19 has exacerbated the food vulnerability in Native communities, the cracks and weaknesses in federal feeding programs have long been known. We look forward to continuing our work with NFBC, IFAI, MAZON and now NAAF, and are thankful that our work to bring much-needed food security into our communities will continue to advance.”
“IFAI serves Indian Country through legal research and policy analysis focused on food and agriculture, and in that capacity we have served as the Research Partner to the NFBC from day one, utilizing our technical expertise to develop educational materials on farm and food policy,” said Erin Parker, Research Director and Staff Attorney of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. “We continue to be grateful for the generous support we receive from MAZON that helps make our work in this space possible, and we are excited to continue that work alongside our longtime organizational partners, NFBC and IAC, as we work together to support the future of Indian Country agriculture.”
“Indian Land Tenure Foundation is happy to partner with IAC in this endeavor,” said Chris Stainbrook (Oglala Lakota), President of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. “Land is the base of agriculture in Indian Country and regaining the reservation lands to Indian ownership will allow the Native nations to grow and retain the economic benefits from their agricultural sector, potentially billions of dollars each year.”
The Native Farm Bill Coalition is a nation-wide initiative to give Native Americans a strong, united voice to advance a common agenda on the federal Farm Bill, which addresses everything from nutrition programs to rural development.