Senate Approves Office of Tribal Affairs

With Senate farm bill debate resuming this week, the full Senate recently passed one of 73 amendments, approving the creation of an Office of Tribal Affairs to help manage and improve U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance to Native American tribes.

The amendment is partially inspired by recent lawsuits against USDA loan policies. In addition to facing a series of class action lawsuits by African American farmers alleging discrimination, the USDA has been rocked by allegations of racism against the Indian population.

An amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill introduced by Hawaii Senator Daniel Akaka would help maintain relations between Indian tribes and the federal government by creating a USDA office that specifically deals with tribal affairs.

“This office was created to ensure the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] upholds federal Indian policy and maintains its government-to-government relationship with tribes,” Akaka said Tuesday. “Permanently establishing this will ensure that tribal governments can develop their programs in parity with their neighbors in rural America and will ensure that the USDA consults with tribal governments and that tribes can participate in programs related to agricultural, infrastructure, and economic opportunities.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer