The Native Farm Bill Coalition's co-chair, Kari Jo Lawrence, Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, recently testified to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding Indian Country priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill.
Here is one notable quote of many by Lawrence, “With 2023 marking a farm bill reauthorizing year, the IAC and its co-stewards of the NFBC are elevating Tribal agricultural priorities, some of which are unique to USDA programming but many addresses the BIA oversight of Tribal lands.
“The Native Farm Bill Coalition has received feedback from tribal leaders offering resounding support for 638 contracting authority and greater parity. 638 is an acknowledgment of Tribal sovereignty that opens the door to food purchasing decisions, allowing for more Tribally produced foods to support Tribal economies.
“The two 638 pilot programs authorized in the 2018 Farm bBill are a step in the right direction and offer strong foundation for permanent and expanded 638 authorities in 2023. At a minimum, 638 programs should be made permanent but there is strong support for expansion.
“Indian country rarely fits neatly within county and state based frameworks under which most USDA programs operate, resulting in inconsistent access to USDA programs. Credit, conservation, commodity, and crop insurance are foundational to all agricultural producers. But accessing these presents unique challenges to Tribal producers, often due to the status of the land on which they operate.”