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USDA awards first $10M loan to help consolidate Indian land base

Tipis on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Photo by Kat

The Department of Agriculture announced the first loan under a new program aimed at consolidating the Indian land base.

The $10 million loan was awarded to the Native American Community Development Corporation Financial Services, Inc. The community development financial institution, which is located on the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, will act as an intermediary to help individual Indians purchase fractional land interests.

"This program was created to address a longstanding barrier to agricultural financing in Indian Country," Agriculture Under Secretary Michael T. Scuse said in a press release on Tuesday. "Working with intermediary lenders, the program allows USDA to help increase the availability of farm loans to Native Americans who want to start or expand a farming or ranching operation on Indian lands."

The Highly Fractionated Indian Land Loan Program was authorized by Congress through the 2014 Farm Bill. It was designed to help tribes and individual Indians purchase fractionated interests so long as they plan to use the land for agricultural purposes.

"The ability of the owners to use land decreases as fractionation increases, sometimes to the point where it is nearly impossible to locate the owners or for the known owners to coordinate the use of the property," a notice that was published in the Federal Register last year states. "This program seeks to alleviate this by providing a way to consolidate the fractionated interests."

Federal Register Notice:
Highly Fractionated Indian Land (HFIL) Loan Program (December 1, 2015)

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