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  • December 12, 2018 - The House of Representatives today passed a Farm Bill compromise by a vote of 369-47 following passage yesterday in the Senate by a vote of 87-13. There was an historic level of lobbying on this bill from Indian Country and it shows in the final legislation.

    What follows is a brief, title-by-title, summary of some of the key provisions in the bill for Indian Country that APS prepared for some of its tribal clients.

    Title I.            Commodities

    Adds Indian Tribes and tribal organizations as an eligible producer for assistance for coverage under the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) for the death of unweaned livestock due to adverse weather, makes available funding through ELAP for inspections of cattle tick fever and increases the cost share available under the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to 75 percent for beginning farmers, ranchers and veterans.

    Title II.           Conservation

    Deletes subsections (a) and (f) of the 1985 Farm Bill, providing an authority for the review and guidance for practice costs and payment rates, amending the authority for alternative funding arrangements for Indian Tribes.

    Title III.          Trade

    Section 18 of the Trade Title directs the Secretary of Agriculture to support greater inclusion of Tribal agricultural and food products in trade-related activities.

    Title IV.          Nutrition

    The bill reauthorizes the Traditional and Locally-Grown Food Fund in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), adding the concept of regionally grown food, eliminating the requirement to conduct a survey of traditional foods, and authorizing funds made available to carry out FDPIR for two fiscal years. There is authorized an 80 percent floor for the Federal share of administrative costs and authorization for funds made to carry out FDPIR for States and Tribes for two fiscal years. The bill also establishes a demonstration project for one or more tribal organizations to enter into a self-determination contract to purchase agricultural commodities for FDPIR. The intent is for tribal organizations to have an increased role in procuring and distributing more locally, regionally and tribal produced foods under FDPIR.

    The bill recognizes that access to healthy food may require a variety of retail settings in some areas, particularly rural areas and Tribal communities. To encompass a broader variety of Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) projects that will increase the supply of and demand for healthy foods in underserved communities, the bill expands eligible projects to include healthy food enterprises. These enterprises could include food hubs, mobile markets, direct to consumer markets, or food business incubators. 

    Provide authority to the Secretary to allow a tribal agency to use certain types of federal funds for non-federal program matches.

    The bill establishes a study to look at the impact of fraudulent foods that mimic traditional foods or Tribal seeds that are available in the commercial marketplace.

    Title V.             Credit

    Requires GAO (Government Accountability Office) to study the agricultural credit needs of farms and ranches owned or operated by Indian tribes or tribal members, and whether the Farm Credit System has the authority and resources to meet such needs.

    Title VI.          Rural Development

    Reauthorizes the Tribal College and University Essential Community Facilities Program through FY 2023.

    Establish a technical assistance program to improve access by Tribal entities to rural development programs.

    Title VII.         Research

    Establish a “New Beginnings Initiative” in consultation with the Office of Tribal Relations. These funds to land-grant colleges or universities are to provide Indians educational programs and services or tuition at such colleges. These grants are targeted toward Tribal students.

    Reauthorizes endowment funding, capacity-building grants, and research grants for the 36 tribal colleges for FY 2019 through FY 2023.

    Includes Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program grants through Smith-Lever Community Extension Program.

    Allows Indian Tribes eligible for grants through the Farm and Stress Assistance Network.

    Title VIII.       Forestry

    Gives authority to Indian Tribes to request to conduct forest management activities on Federal lands where they have a tribal interest by authorizing a demonstration project by which Indian Tribes may contract to perform certain functions and programs.

    The bill authorizes counties and Indian Tribes to enter into good neighbor agreements.

    Authorizes new enrollment consideration of acreage owned by Indian Tribes for the Healthy Forests Reserve Program.

    Title X.            Horticulture

    Secretary is authorized to provide technical assistance to Indian Tribes in the development of a tribal plan related to hemp production.

    Title XI.          Crop Insurance

    Provides premium subsidy at the rate of 90 percent for a member of an Indian tribe for the first purchase of Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage insurance.

    Title XII.         Miscellaneous

    Establishes USDA Tribal Advisory Committee to advise the Secretary on tribal agricultural topics and annually report recommendations to the Secretary.

    Codifies the Tribal Promise Zones program and provides for the continuation of currently existing Tribal Promise Zones to leverage public-private investment.

    Aronnax Public Strategies has committed to providing Native Oklahoma with regular updates from inside the halls of Congress on issues affecting Indian Country.  If you would like more in-depth information on any of these issues, or anything else relevant to Indian Country, please contact us.

     Fred Starzyk is founder and principal at Aronnax Public Strategies (APS), a Washington, D.C. based government affairs firm specializing in Native American affairs.  APS offers federal lobbying, grant writing, legislative monitoring, and business development services for Tribal clients across the country.  APS has strategic partnerships with state and local lobbyists in more than 25 states, giving their clients access to a full suite of government affairs services.  Find out more at www.aronnaxps.com.

     

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