By Marissa Johnson
A multi-faceted national campaign supported by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is working towards including a Native crop insurance provision in the 2018 Farm Bill.
A joint effort among the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, National Congress of American Indians and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, the Native Farm Bill Coalition works to improve Native dietary health and food access at all levels.
In case of harvest issues, the Farm Bill serves as a safety net for famers to have money to get them to the next year, serving as a coverage. The multi-faceted campaigners believe it is especially beneficial for new businesses, or producers who have yet to take advantage of the insurance. A crop insurance for Native Americans provision is currently in the Senate version of the Farm Bill in Section 11111. There is not one in the version passed by the House of Representatives.
“Being able to have crop insurance allows you to have some protection – if something happens to go wrong that year – so you can make it to the next crop year the next cycle,” Colby Duren said.
Duren stresses the Native Farm Bill Coalition’s largest goal is for both tribes and tribal producers to have access to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Agriculture is a really risky endeavor,” Duren said. “Legal – regulatory – labor – weather – agriculture itself is a very risky endeavor. Indian agriculture is a $3.4 billion industry each year. Provisions like this crop insurance language will allow that to continue to grow to feed more people not only in Indian Country, but throughout the whole world.”
The Senate and House of Representatives are working to merge and finalize their respective versions of the Farm Bill within the next two weeks. The House and Senate Conference Committee must reach a compromise and pass a bill by Sept. 30. If no compromise is made, the future of the agriculture industry could be impacted across the nation.
“The Farm Bill is the major, omnibus legislative act historically considered by Congress every five years that serves as the primary vehicle for developing these federal food and nutrition policies.” according to “Regaining Our Future,” a report written by Janie Simms Hipp and Duren.