The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

Native American farmer, rancher advisory board established

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the establishment of a special advisory board to help USDA officials make sure Native Americans participate in and benefit from USDA programs.

The board is being put in place as part of the settlement of the Keepseagle v Vilsack lawsuit that made awards to Native American farmers due to the agency’s past discrimination against them and set up several programs to improve Native American treatment at USDA in the future.

“The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching will help native governments, businesses, farmers and ranchers partner with USDA to create jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen tribal communities,” Vilsack said.

The council will work closely with the Office of Tribal Relations, Farm Service Agency and other USDA agencies to help Native American farmers and ranchers access USDA’s portfolio of programs to improve the profitability of their businesses, Vilsack said.

All nominations for advisory board membership should be sent to Vilsack at USDA by January 20, 2012, marked attention to the Council for Native American Farmers and Ranchers.

The USDA also recently established a technical assistance network with the Intertribal Agriculture Council in 13 regional locations, Vilsack said, and launched a “strike force” initiative in southeastern states that is now expanding to western states with substantial Native American populations.

Vilsack also noted that the 180-day filing period for claims in the Keepseagle settlement ends Dec. 27. Up to $760 million will be made available in monetary relief, debt relief and tax relief to successful claimants.

Claimants must register for a claims package by calling 1-888-233-5506 or visiting