Council on Native American Farming and Ranching gets new members

Chief Kirk Francis, Sr. of the Penobscot Nation of Maine addresses the Department of Agriculture Native American Heritage Month Observance in Washington, D.C., on November 17, 2016. Photo by USDA

The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching has a few new members as it heads into a meeting this week.

The council was created through the Keepseagle settlement that addressed discrimination at the Department of Agriculture. It consists of 15 members who advise the Secretary of Agriculture on ways to eliminate barriers to Native American participation in USDA programs.

"The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching strengthens our partnerships with tribal governments, businesses, farmers, and ranchers," Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release on Monday. "Their work encourages participation of new and historically underserved agricultural producers in USDA programs, and reflects a strong intergovernmental relationship built upon shared values and inclusion."

In the press release, Vilsack announced six new members and re-appointed five others to serve on the council. The move comes ahead of a meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday and Friday.

"This will be the first meeting held during fiscal year 2017 and will consist of, but not be limited to: Hearing public comments, update of USDA programs and activities, and discussion of committee priorities. This meeting will be open to the public," a notice that was published in the Federal Register on Friday states.

The six new members of the council are:
• Erin Shirl, Assistant Director for the Indigenous Food & Ag Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law
• Gilbert Louis III, Firefighter and Farmer / Rancher, (Acoma Pueblo), Grants, New Mexico
• Maggie Goode, Probation Officer and Farmer / Rancher, (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes), Hot Springs, Montana
• Roselynn Yazzie, Crop Manager, Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, (Navajo Nation), Farmington, New Mexico
• Sherry Crutcher, Rancher and Director of Natural Resources for the Shoshone Paiute Tribe, (Shoshone-Paiute Tribe), Owyhee, Nevada
• Shannon McDaniel, Farmer / Rancher and Executive Director of Agriculture for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Durant, Oklahoma

The five members who were re-appointed are:
• Angela Peter, Executive Director, Alaska Tribal Conservation Alliance, (Native Village of Tyonek), Tyonek, Alaska
• Jerry McPeak, Farmer / Rancher and Former State Legislator, (Muscogee Creek), Warner, Oklahoma
• Mark Wadsworth, Range Conservationist for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, (Shoshone-Bannock), Fort Hall, Idaho
•Sarah Vogel, Civil Rights Attorney and Former Agricultural Commissioner for North Dakota, Bismarck, North Dakota
• Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, (Oglala Sioux), Kyle, South Dakota

In addition to the 11 members, four USDA officials serve on the council. They are:
• Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service
• Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency
• Dr. Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
• Leslie Wheelock (Oneida), Director, Office of Tribal Relations

Federal Register Notice:
Council for Native American Farming and Ranching: Public Meeting (December 2, 2016)

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