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ACTION ALERTS

Check this page for ways you can take action and share your priorities for Indian Country in the upcoming Farm Bill.

2024 ACTION ALERTS

May 10, 2024 - Submit comments to the USDA Tribal Advisory Committee by Monday, May 13!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Tribal Advisory Committee is hosting virtual and in-person meetings at the end of May and is encouraging Tribal leaders or their representatives to provide oral and written comments on barriers Tribes face in accessing USDA programs.

 

This is an opportunity for Native Farm Bill Coalition members to discuss federal priorities requiring congressional action and the need for the USDA to publicly support these legislative proposals. Examples include expanding the broad use of Pub.L. 93-638 across USDA programs, encouraging increased use of cooperative agreements and alternative funding agreements, promoting economic development through the expansion of the Buy Indian Act, and so much more.

 

Written comments must be received by Monday, May 13, via email at Tribal.Relations@usda.gov.

 

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Attend the meeting:

Because the meeting is being hosted in a secured facility, members of the public wishing to attend are required to register in advance by Wednesday, May 22.

 

USDA Tribal Advisory Committee meetings

Wednesday, May 29, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (EST)

Thursday, May 30, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (EST)

Lincoln Room of the USDA Whitten Building

1400 Jefferson Ave. SW, Washington, D.C. 20250

Register for the in-person meeting

Register for the webinar

 

More information can be found on the USDA Office of Tribal Relations Tribal Advisory Committee webpage under "Committee Meetings." For more information or questions about logistics for this engagement session, please email Tribal.Relations@usda.gov.

May 7, 2024 - Urge Congress to Expand the Buy Indian Act to USDA Today!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the third largest deployer of funds to Indian Country, behind the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Interior. As a result, the Native American Contractors Association (NACA) and the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) are urging Congress to expand Buy Indian Act authority to USDA, by supporting Sec. 802 of S. 2354, the Improving Agriculture, Research, Cultivation, Timber and Indigenous Commodities (ARCTIC) Act.

 

The House Agriculture Committee plans to mark up its version of the Farm Bill on May 23, 2024. Members of Congress need to hear from you before the markup on the need to expand the Buy Indian Act to USDA.

 

Neither the House Agriculture Committee nor the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill proposals include Buy Indian Act expansion. View a summary of Tribal references in the House and Senate Agriculture Committee summaries.


For any questions or to coordinate with the NFBC and NACA on your advocacy efforts, please contact Quinton Carroll, NACA Executive Director.

 

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Sample email to Capitol Hill staffers:

 

Hello [INSERT STAFFER NAME]:

 

On behalf of the [INSERT TRIBE/TRIBAL ORGANIZATION], a member of the Native Farm Bill Coalition,

we are writing to urge your boss to expand the Buy Indian Act to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by advocating for its inclusion in the upcoming House and Senate Agriculture Committee markups of the 2024 Farm Bill.

 

The Buy Indian Act (25 U.S.C. § 47) currently authorizes the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), and the offices of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (AS-IA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Indian Health Service (IHS), to purchase supplies, services, and certain construction services (e.g., to build roads, schools, hospitals) from “Indian Economic Enterprises” (IEEs).

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the third largest deployer of funds to Indian Country, behind the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Interior. As a result, the Native American Contractors Association (NACA) and the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) are urging Congress to expand Buy Indian Act authority to USDA, by supporting Sec. 802 of S. 2354, the Improving Agriculture, Research, Cultivation, Timber and Indigenous Commodities (ARCTIC) Act.

 

This expansion would significantly expand the breadth of contracts IEEs can seek, generate more economic activity, and create more local employment opportunities in Tribal communities than if USDA contracted non-Indian firms to carry out this work. Buy Indian Act contract opportunities at USDA could include, but are not limited to, the procurement of food from Tribal producers, procurement of other goods (e.g., paper) and services (e.g., printing, IT systems, record keeping) from IEEs, staffing contracts for agencies struggling to fill positions, the construction of critical infrastructure (e.g., food distribution warehouses, housing for federal staff, roads), and so much more.

 

Note, please attach this joint NFBC and NACA one-pager supporting the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act.

APRIL 17, 2024 - Urge Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to Introduce a Companion Bill to the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act Today!

On July 27, 2023, Sen. Patty Murray (D-OR) introduced S. 2563, the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act, to remove a statutory prohibition on the dual use of Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the same month by American Indians and Alaska Natives. But there is no companion bill in the House.

 

Removing this statutory prohibition in the upcoming Farm Bill would help improve food access throughout Indian Country.


With the House Agriculture Committee planning to release the base text of their version of the Farm Bill by the end of May, members of the U.S. House of Representatives need to hear from you today on the need to remove this discriminatory prohibition.

 

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Sample email to Capitol Hill staffers:

 

Hello [INSERT STAFFER NAME]:

 

On behalf of the [INSERT TRIBE/TRIBAL ORGANIZATION], a member of the Native Farm Bill Coalition, we are writing to urge your boss to introduce a companion bill to S. 2563, the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act (Act), which would remove a statutory bar prohibiting American Indians and Alaska Natives who qualify for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) from using both programs in the same month.

Federal programs intended to address food insecurity are incredibly important in Indian Country. Not only are food costs higher in rural America, where many reservation communities are located, but American Indian people also experience higher rates of food insecurity than the average population. This issue has only been exacerbated by the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

To address these issues, an estimated 276 Tribes across the country provide an estimated 75,000 Native American adults access to healthy food through FDPIR. The statutory bar creates a needless bureaucratic headache for anyone who chooses to move between programs, as they must be decertified from one program via official letter before they can transition to another program. Because FDPIR is largely administered by Tribes, and SNAP by states, this creates an unnecessary and inefficient bureaucratic feedback loop that leaves Tribal members unable to access nutrition programs they are eligible for.

 

Additionally, this statutory prohibition is not in place for any other food programs. For example, individuals who qualify for both The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and SNAP may use both; individuals who qualify for both the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and SNAP may use both; and on and on.

 

Removing this arbitrary barrier would not only remove an unfair prohibition solely aimed at American Indians and Alaska Natives but also improve food access throughout Indian Country. Join us in addressing this issue by introducing a House companion bill of the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act.

 

For any questions or comments, please contact [INSERT CONTACT].

 

NOTE: Please attach the NFBC letter supporting the Tribal Access to Nutrition Assistance Act (hyperlinked below).

APRIL 1, 2024 - Urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to Support 638 Expansion in the Upcoming Farm Bill

We need your support! This Friday, April 5, is the last day to submit your letter to the USDA supporting 638 expansion in the upcoming Farm Bill.

 

Pub.L.93-638 Indian Self-Determination contracting and Self-Governance compacting has been the most effective use of federal dollars since 1975. The Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) needs your help sending letters to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging his support for the various marker bills introduced that would authorize the extended use of 638 authority throughout the agency.

 

A sample letter can be downloaded here:

 

Please send a copy of your submitted letter to Kayla Gebeck Carroll (Kayla.Gebeck@hklaw.com) so we can share it as a part of our larger advocacy efforts. For help drafting your letter, please email Parker Reynolds (Parker.Reynolds@hklaw.com).

MARCH 24, 2024 - Urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Support 638 Expansion in the Upcoming Farm Bill

 

Pub.L.93-638 Indian Self-Determination contracting and Self-Governance compacting has been the most effective use of federal dollars since 1975, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has yet to fully embrace it. For this reason, the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) needs your help sending letters to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging his support for the various marker bills introduced that would authorize the extended use of 638 authority throughout the agency.

 

A sample letter can be downloaded here:

 

Please send a copy of your submitted letter to Kayla Gebeck Carroll (Kayla.Gebeck@hklaw.com) so we can share it as a part of our larger advocacy efforts. For help drafting your letter, please email Parker Reynolds (Parker.Reynolds@hklaw.com). Letters should be sent to USDA by April 5, 2024, to ensure that USDA hears from Indian Country before the House and Senate release text for the upcoming Farm Bill.

New 638 Opportunities in the Upcoming Farm Bill

As part of the upcoming Farm Bill negotiations, members on both sides of the aisle have heard the requests of Indian Country to make the 638 pilot programs authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill permanent and to expand 638 authority more broadly at USDA. As part of these efforts, members have introduced bipartisan bills to support the expansion of 638 authority to the following programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including all nutrition education and training programs and functions supported through the USDA;

  • Any program, function, service, or activity of the FS (e.g., recreational, visitor centers, trails, boat launches, etc.);

  • Any program function, service, or activity provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and

  • Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) to allow Tribal governments to inspect beef, bison, chicken, and other products put into their food programs.

 

Additionally, several members of Congress are advocating for the creation of an Office of Self-Governance, which would help USDA build the institutional knowledge to utilize 638 authority throughout the Department.

NFBC Resources

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Stay connected with us and hear from Native producers, get the latest on Marker Bill progress, and track the 2024 Farm Bill. 

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