Tester Fights to Increase Agriculture Opportunities in Indian Country

Senator: Native Communities Have Been Left Out For Far Too Long

(U.S. Senate)-With the Farm Bill reauthorization due this year, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to increase agriculture opportunities in Indian Country.

During a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, Tester pushed his colleagues to ensure that the next Farm Bill includes provisions that will help advance agriculture in Native American communities and boost economic development in rural areas.

“Native communities have been left out for far too long and the Farm Bill presents a key opportunity to enhance the good work on the ground and allow Tribal participation to create self-sustaining communities,” Tester said. “We can create new opportunities for Native American farmers and ranchers, and help expand the agriculture economy on tribal lands to create more jobs and spur more economic growth.”

The current Farm Bill is set to expire early next year. Over the coming weeks and months, Congress will host hearings and begin drafting the Farm Bill, which sets agriculture, conservation, and nutrition policies for the country.

Tester will specifically push for the next Farm Bill to increase tribal access to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs, strengthen the USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations to ensure Native American producers have access to technical assistance and training, and provide incentives to first generation farmers and ranchers.

Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, has held a series of Farm Bill listening sessions and is encouraging Montanans to share their Farm Bill priorities by emailing FarmBillComments@tester.senate.gov.

According to the U.S. Census, the number of Native American farmers and ranchers has increased by five percent since over the past decade. Native American producers sold more than $1.8 billion in crop and livestock sales in 2012.