In keeping with President Obama and Secretary Vilsack’s efforts to improve the lives of Native Americans, USDA officials last month signed two Memorandums of Understanding with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The intention is to improve access to USDA programs by tribes and tribal members.
The MOUs 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 programs through NRCS and farm loan programs through FSA 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 MOUs also support establishment of Native rural businesses, renewable energy development, and job creation. Read more »
Utah State University Engineering Student Semira Crank spent her spring break surveying animal waste management systems on dairy farms near Logan, Utah, as a temporary student employee with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Semira Crank is proud to be part of a growing number of young Navajo women breaking barriers to become scientists and engineers. Her story began in the small southeastern Utah community of Montezuma Creek in what is referred to as the “Utah Strip” portion of the Navajo Nation Reservation. Read more »
Earlier this week I was privileged to co-host a historic meeting here at USDA. I was joined by Jodi Gillette, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Michael Black, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to discuss ways USDA and BIA can work together to better serve the Tribes.
Our two agencies discussed the many challenges in addressing the needs for economic development, natural resource conservation and agriculture on trust land. We reached an agreement to develop working groups made up of representatives of the two departments to focus on land and credit issues. We will also discuss leasing processes, easement issues, how agreements that require both our department’s approvals can be handled more efficiently and how we can work together to focus on joint staff education and training. The end goal is to improve our processes so that economic development, alternative energy, conservation, agriculture, and all our related programs can deploy in Indian Country in a better way. We are forming two working groups of national and local office staff to clarify the issues and begin building workable solutions. Read more »