Native American Agriculture Fund on the Announcement of the USDA Tribal Advisory Committee Nominations

Native American Agriculture Fund on the Announcement of the USDA Tribal Advisory Committee Nominations

Jun 28, 2023

On today’s announcement of the request for nominations of the Tribal Advisory Committee, the Native American Agriculture Fund’s CEO, Toni Stanger-McLaughlin says:

“Marking a significant milestone following the Keepseagle v. Vilsack settlement, the creation of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) took place. This influential public advisory committee, acting as a segment of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, was set in motion by the Secretary in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Its function mirrors the recently constituted Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC), providing insightful counsel and constructive recommendations to the Secretary.

The blueprint for the TAC bears striking similarities to an already existing Tribal Advisory Committee within the Department of Treasury. The Native Farm Bill Coalition, advocating for the resuscitation of their representative body, clinched a victory in the 2018 Farm Bill. A unique distinction characterizes CNAFR and TAC – the influential participation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) within their activities.

It’s fervently hoped that the USDA will solicit the expertise of an external panel of evaluators or advisors. These professionals, recognized for their proven track record and solid history of productive associations with Native producers, will assist immensely in the nominee selection process. The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) is steadfastly dedicated to forming alliances with other organizations to propagate awareness about this esteemed opportunity, which aims to channel learned insights and first-hand experiences of Indian Country agriculture into the USDA leadership. Considering the crucial need for an array of perspectives, diverse experiences, and representation from various regions across Indian Country, it’s indispensable to broaden the scope of integration for both the nomination process and shaping the TAC.

Today’s unveiled formation of the TAC stands as a testament to the continuation and enhancement of CNAFR’s initial efforts during the Obama Administration. The previous administration played a cardinal role in brokering and staunchly fortifying a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USDA and BIA. This MOU effectively navigated a myriad of impediments USDA customers face when seeking to utilize the extensive array of USDA programs and services. Having a TAC that will include continued engagement with USDA will allow for continued improvement in the customer experience for both BIA and USDA participants.

The inauguration of this advisory body is a turning point in protracting the revered task of shaping decisions that bear substantial consequences on Indian Country producers, ensuring their voices continue to influence policy and practices. We owe a great debt to those that served on the CNAFR and the organizations that continue to support this work, without them, today’s announcement would not have been possible.”