June 29, 2018

Udall Secures Key Tribal Provisions in Senate Farm Bill Reauthorization

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced that he has secured several key tribal provisions in the Senate’s bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill. Many of these provisions reflect tribal priorities that were originally included in Udall’s CROPS for Indian Country Act and Tribal Food and Housing Security Act.

“Reauthorization of the Farm Bill is an opportunity to improve federal nutrition, agriculture, and conservation policies for all of Indian Country,” Udall said. “I worked closely with Native stakeholders and key partners on both the Senate Indian Affairs and Senate Agriculture Committees to make sure every title of this year’s Senate Farm Bill supports tribal families, famers, and ranchers in a meaningful way.”

Udall continued, “I’m very pleased that we were able to work across committees and across the political aisle to secure a record number of tribal priorities for Indian Country in this Farm Bill. I hope that this momentum will continue as I work with Tribes and my colleagues in the Senate to push Indian Country’s remaining priorities – including expansion of tribal self-determination and self-governance programs – through Congress.”

Udall sought input from tribal leaders, the Native Farm Bill Coalition, and other Native stakeholders at an Indian Affairs hearing on agribusiness and a roundtable on farm bill priorities in January. He used this feedback to work with Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) to draft the bipartisan CROPS for Indian Country Act, which included provisions to expand tribal determination contracting to USDA, increase tribal access to international markets, and provide equitable access to agricultural research funding in Indian Country.

Agriculture is a leading economic development tool for many tribal communities. USDA estimates that more than 56,000 Native ranchers and farmers, who operate over 57 million acres of farm and range land, bring $3.3 billion to the agricultural market.

Udall’s tribal provisions in the Senate’s Farm Bill reauthorization will promote economic development, subsistence, and nutrition in Native communities.

Highlights of Udall’s Indian Country Farm Bill Provisions:

Tribal Self-Determination Project for FDPIR Food Procurement – Authorizes $5 million to establish a tribal self-determination demonstration project within the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), which will allow tribal food programs to better serve the nearly 90,000 Native FDPIR participants with greater access to traditional and nutritional foods.

Tribal Advisory Committee on Agriculture – Establishes a permanent tribal advisory committee within USDA to provide technical assistance, guidance, and direction on polices implemented by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of Tribal Relations

Research at Tribal Colleges and Universities – Enhances grant and research opportunities for tribal colleges and universities by expanding access to nearly $11.3 million in USDA research and extension funding, including the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program; the Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) Program; and the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP).

Tribal Promise Zone – Ensures the Tribal Promise Zone initiative will continue to provide improves access to resources and technical assistance form federal agency partners to Native communities.

International Trade Missions – Facilitates greater participation on international trade missions by Native American farmers and ranchers, allowing tribal producers the opportunity to sell traditional crops and tribal products in the international market.

Traditional Foods Study – Directs the Government Accountability Office to study the impact of traditional and tribally-produced foods in the marketplace.

Tribal Broadband and Utility Financing – Provides refinancing authority to USDA to lower the cost of projects in “substantially underserved trust areas” (SUTA) that improve electric, broadband, and water infrastructure access.

USDA Rural Development Tribal Technical Assistance Office – Establishes a permanent Rural Development Tribal Technical Assistance Office that will be responsible for distilling best practices, establishing user-friendly application systems, and assisting Tribes in preparing USDA Rural Development grant applications.

FDPIR Administrative Updates – Reduces the burden of administrative costs for tribal organizations that implement FDPIR, freeing up more tribal resources to go directly toward addressing food insecurity in Indian Country.