Opinion

October 28, 2014
By:
A-Dae Romero

The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed by President Obama in 2011. In 2013, the accompanying Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulations were released. FDA’s regulations articulate sweeping changes in how agricultural businesses and farmer’s grow, produce, and process specific produce.

October 28, 2014
By:
Ruth Hopkins

When a loved one becomes ill, we often feel helpless. Seven years ago, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The malignancy was relatively far along when discovered, so there was no time to adjust to the news. She underwent a mastectomy within days, and began cancer treatment soon after.

October 09, 2014
By:
Gary Davis

Over the week of October 6th, Native Americans from across the United States will be in Milwaukee for the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s Regional Reservation Economic Summit, or RES Wisconsin.

September 27, 2014
By:
Michael Hunter

President Obama, with all respect, I write to you on behalf of our Native Nations in the Spirit of Tecumseh, 200 years after his journey to the Milky Way—

August 22, 2014
By:
James Mills

David Wilkins makes pertinent observations on the relationship of today’s 566 federally recognized Indian Nations and its struggle to balance its tribal citizenship rolls (Auditing Tribal

August 18, 2014
By:
Michael A. Baines

We are profoundly disappointed and frustrated that the trustees of the defunct Sheldon Jackson College have filed a notice to appeal a recent federal decision rejecting their claim to 160 acres by Redoubt Falls and surrounding areas near Sitka.

August 11, 2014
By:
Jim Enote

This past November I had a surprising opportunity to speak face-to-face for about 20 minutes with Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins football team.

August 08, 2014
By:
Mark Rogers

I've been hesitant to write about the tragic death of Eric Garner. For those who do not follow New York City news, Mr. Garner was allegedly observed to be selling loose cigarettes (aka "loosies") on a street corner in Staten Island on July 17th of this year.

August 07, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

On August 3, 2014, Dr.

July 29, 2014
By:
Senator Mark Begich

Most Americans know of the broken treaties that scar the history of the United States’ treatment of its First Peoples. Many do not know of more recent broken promises.

Travis Armstrong
July 19, 2014
By:
Travis Armstrong

Southern California's Morongo people, like the other bands of the Cahuilla near Palm Springs, have had much of their ancestral land taken from them.

April 07, 2014
By:
Peter d'Errico

On March 6, 2014, the Connecticut Post newspaper published an editorial—"Some Indians are inconvenient"—blasting Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy for trying to block proposed chan

April 06, 2014
By:
Steven Newcomb

In September 2014 a United Nations High Level Plenary Meeting of the U.N. General Assembly is scheduled to meet at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

March 19, 2014
By:
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Last week, I spoke to several hundred tribal leaders at the National Congress of American Indians Tribal Nations Legislative Summit here in Washington, DC. The conversation was wide ranging, but boiled down to two key topics: what have we achieved, and how can USDA programs better support sustained economic growth in Indian country?  

USDA and our partners in Indian country have made significant improvements to critical infrastructure over the past five years. In the past year alone, USDA invested more than $625 million in Indian country through our Rural Development programs. We have worked with Tribes to bring new and improved electric infrastructure to Tribal lands and financed Tribal community facilities, including schools, medical facilities and Tribal colleges and universities.

Upgraded facilities improve the quality of life in Tribal communities and provide state-of-the-art healthcare, education and training, particularly for young people. Still, retaining talented young people in Tribal communities remains a challenge. This is not an issue exclusive to Indian Country—we face the same challenge of brain drain across rural America.

From my perspective, Tribal-owned farming and ranching operations and small agribusinesses represent an enormous opportunity for Tribal Nations to create the kinds of jobs and opportunity that encourage young leaders and entrepreneurs to put down roots in Indian country.

Certainly, there is significant value in expanding access to healthy foods for Tribal citizens and teaching Tribal youth about traditional foods. At the same time, Tribal-owned businesses also expand economic development by infusing depressed areas with new in-flows of cash and encouraging those dollars to be spent locally.

While many tribes have commercial farms and ranches, others are just now re-entering farming or ranching, as many did not have access to the land or capital required to operate until relatively recently. Access to capital and resources can make or break these operations, and, while not a situation unique to Indian Country, credit histories or a lack of records, including tax filings, can make accessing credit a barrier for individuals and small businesses.

USDA is here to help. Our agency staffs understand the unique challenges that face farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs in Indian Country and stand ready to help navigate the landscape of USDA tools and resources.

One of the ways we do this is through the Obama Administration’s place-based initiatives, exemplified by the first tribal Promise Zone -- the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma -- and USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, which works across the country and in 13 states with American Indian and Alaska Native communities. We partner with community organizations and technical assistance providers in these areas, like the Intertribal Agriculture Council, and provide extra help as they apply for grants, loans and other resources.

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