Hoeven: Senate Passes Farm Bill to Support Native American Producers and Communities

Senator Secured Key Provisions to Promote Agribusiness in Indian Country, Strengthen Tribal Self-Governance for USDA Programs

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today released the following statement after the Senate passed the farm bill, which included key provisions from the senator’s Cultivating Resources, Opportunities, Prosperity and Sustainability (CROPS) for Indian Country Act.

“The Senate took an important step to help ensure the farm bill supports our Native American farmers, ranchers and communities,” said Hoeven. “This legislation enhances tribal self-governance for food and agriculture programs, expands grant and research opportunities for tribal colleges and universities, and strengthens the partnership between USDA and Indian tribes. These improvements will provide important resources to Indian Country’s producers, who help drive many rural tribal economies.” 

“This is a strong Farm Bill for Indian Country, and we welcome this bipartisan legislation that would increase tribal access to programs across the United States Department of Agriculture,” said Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians. “We appreciate the tireless efforts of Chairman Hoeven and Vice Chairman Udall, who have worked closely with the Agriculture Committee, Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow and many other members on this bill. Tribal governments are often the drivers of rural economies, and the opportunities presented in this legislation, including the establishment of the first USDA self-determination program, will provide a brighter future for those in and around Indian Country.”

Chairman Hoeven secured the following Indian Country priorities in the Senate’s farm bill:

  • Tribal Self-Determination Project for FDPIR Food Procurement – Authorizes $5 million to establish a tribal self-determination procurement demonstration project within the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), which will allow tribal food programs to better serve the nearly 90,000 Native Americans who currently participate in FDPIR, including elders and youth. 
  • Tribal Advisory Committee on Agriculture and Ranching – Establishes a permanent advisory committee within USDA to provide technical assistance, guidance, and direction on polices implemented by the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of Tribal Relations.  
  • Access to USDA Grants for Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) – Enhances grant and research opportunities for TCUs by expanding access to nearly $11.3 million in USDA research and extension funding, including the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program; the Children, Youth and Families at Risk Program; and the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program. The legislation also provides a technical fix to update the names of the 36 TCUs.
  • Certainty for Tribal Promise Zone Designees – Helps ensure the four Tribal Promise Zones, including the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe, have access to resources and technical assistance from federal agency partners.
  • Promoting Trade for Tribal Producers – Facilitates greater participation of tribal producers on international trade missions.
  • Addressing Food Fraud – Directs the Government Accountability Office to study the impact of foods fraudulently marketed as Native American produced goods.  

Hoeven has led the Senate in including Indian Country’s priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill. In January, the Senator convened an oversight hearing to identify opportunities for Indian agribusiness and co-chaired a bipartisan roundtable on tribal traditional foods. In May, Hoeven introduced the bipartisan CROPS for Indian Country Act alongside Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.).