Native News Network Staff in Native Briefs. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Officials from the Department of Agriculture, USDA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, BIA, have signed two memorandums of understanding designed to foster improved access to USDA and BIA programs by tribes and tribal members. The memorandums apply to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development at USDA, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. The memorandums of understanding will further improve the important government to government relationships and also the services offered between USDA, the BIA and the tribal governments and the communities they serve.
“We look forward to working closely with USDA to serve Indian country. American Indian farmers are a vital part of Tribal economies and the nation's agricultural industry. Agriculture is the backbone of the nation,”
BIA Director Mike Black said.
“With these memorandums of understanding in place, we will be able to work with USDA and its programs as partners in helping American Indian farmers maintain their farms, strengthen the local tribal economies, and bring their produce to market for the benefit of all Americans, and the world.”
The memorandums of understanding set up a framework for consultation, training, coordination, and the provision of technical assistance which will increase the amount of Indian land enrolled under USDA conservation and farm loan programs and improve service delivery on those lands. Farming and animal management, grazing, ranching and related food and agricultural operations will be supported through improved interdepartmental coordination. The memorandums of understandings, which are in place for five years, also support establishment of Native rural businesses, renewable energy development, and job creation.
Additionally, the Bureau of Indian Affairs will work with Rural Development to increase homeownership, home repair, and rehabilitation opportunities, and improve energy efficiency of homes on Indian lands through improved coordination of program delivery.
We respect and honor the centuries of stewardship that the Indian tribes participating in our conservation and farm programs have shown for the land we all share. We are pleased to solidify our partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to conserve the soil, care for our water and air, and help the tribe's maximize their agricultural production.
said Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan M. Garcia.
The memorandums of understanding will complement the USDA's Rural Utilities Service work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to implement and administer the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas provision of the 2008 Farm Bill to increase affordability and availability of Rural Utilities Service -supported infrastructure on Indian lands.
Finally, the memorandums of understanding also help further the objectives of the Keepseagle settlement agreement, which resolved a lawsuit regarding past discrimination by USDA against American Indian farmers and ranchers concerning its farm loan program.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
posted September 27, 2012 6:20 am edt