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IFAI Director Janie Simms Hipp testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to discuss what Indian Country has at stake in the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.

To view the entire hearing, click here.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held an oversight hearing “Breaking New Ground in Agribusiness Opportunities in Indian Country” on January 17, 2018. The committee has jurisdiction to study the unique issues facing Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian peoples and to propose legislation to address these issues.

Panelists Chairman John Berrey of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and Janie Simms Hipp, Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative.

The committee heard testimony from panelists Janie Simms Hipp, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative director; Chairman John Berrey, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma; Lionel Haskie, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry; and Diane Cullo, Advisor to the Secretary and Director of Partnerships & Public Engagement at the USDA.

“Agribusiness is critical for Indian Country, and it’s a growing industry,” Senator John Hoeven, chair of the committee, said. “According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, there was a 9 percent increase in American Indian principal farm operators. This committee has worked to reduce the regulatory burden in Indian Country, and it is time we do the same for the growing industry of Indian agribusiness.”

The hearing was held as Congress continues to work on the 2018 farm bill reauthorization. During the hearing, Hoeven asked invited panelists to discuss proposals to encourage food and agricultural production in Indian Country by leveraging resources and strengthening the relationship between the USDA and Indian tribes.

The panel responded to questions from the committee concerning a broad array of topics including the removal of regulatory barriers and “638” self-governance authority, federal feeding programs, economic impacts of agricultural development, the persistence of food insecurity in Indian Country, and the role of traditional foods and agricultural practices.

Photo by Colby Duren

Much of the discussion was prompted and informed by the recently released “Regaining Our Future” report, prepared by Hipp and IFAI Policy Director Colby Duren, and commissioned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community through the Seeds of Native Health campaign. The report, published in collaboration with the Intertribal Agriculture Council, National Congress of American Indians, and Intertribal Timber Council, is an assessment of the risks and opportunities that Indian Country has at stake in the upcoming Farm Bill legislation.

The Seeds of Native Health campaign is also coordinating the formation of a Native Farm Bill Coalition to serve as an advocacy and advisory group to Congress during the drafting of the bill. Any tribes, Native organizations, and non-Native allied groups which support the dietary health, agricultural, conservation, food sovereignty, and economic development interests of Native Americans are encouraged to join the Coalition, shape its agenda, and contribute to its advocacy efforts.

Any tribal government, intertribal organization, or other group that is interested in joining the Coalition can download a draft resolution or letter of support.

For more information, or if you are an organization interested in joining the Native Farm Bill Coalition, please visit the Native Farm Bill Coalition webpage.

 

 

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