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Janie Simms Hipp, J.D., LL.M. (Chickasaw), director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law, was recently appointed to the USDA Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (RTCAC) for the Eastern Region. The council is an advisory body for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

jhippHipp will serve a three-year term as a Regional Tribal Organization representative, along with 15 others who were appointed as Federal or Tribal representatives.

Executive Order 13175, signed in 2000 and titled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,” requires that NRCS establish regular and meaningful consultation with Tribal Officials when developing Federal policy that have Tribal implications.  Title 410, General Manual, Part 405, establishes policy for NRCS employees regarding interaction with Indian Tribes.  In June of 2011, the NRCS Chief signed a decision memorandum to establish the creation of RTCAC.  These councils will provide a direct line of communication from Tribes to NRCS leaders and policy makers at regional and national levels and provide a venue for agency leadership to gather input on Tribal issues.

The advisory council will assist the conservation service in identifying ways to improve relationships with Tribes as it relates to these and other issues:

  • Providing quality service through programs and service, including technical and financial assistance.
  • Promoting strong partnerships and teamwork.
  • Providing Tribes the opportunity to offer feedback on agency programs and services.
  • Assisting Tribes in enhancing their capacity in natural resources conservation.
  • Delivering the most effective resource conservation technology.


About the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: The Initiative enhances health and wellness in tribal communities by advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development and cultural food traditions in Indian Country. We empower tribal governments, farmers, ranchers and food businesses by providing strategic planning and technical assistance; by creating new academic and professional education programs in food systems and agriculture; and by increasing student enrollment in land grant universities in food and agricultural related disciplines.