GM 12-095

Council on Native American Farming and Ranching to Hold First Meeting August 14-15

The Department of Agriculture has announced the first meeting of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (Council). The Council was established as a part of the settlement agreement in the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case. Secretary Vilsack named members to the Council on May 24, 2012. The meeting will be held August 14-15, 2012, at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a class action lawsuit in which Native American farmers and ranchers alleged decades of discrimination by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) with regard to access to and participation in farm loan programs (see our General Memorandum 10-136 of October 22, 2010).

Attached are the FEDERAL REGISTER notice concerning the meeting and the news release naming the members of the Council. The meeting is open to the public, with comment from members of the public taking place on August 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Persons wishing to make an oral presentation on August 15 should inform the contact person listed in the notice. Written comments are due July 31.

The Council is advisory in nature and will report to the Secretary of Agriculture. Among the purposes of the Council are to advise the Secretary on matters relating to participation of Native Americans in farm loan programs and to make or transmit recommendations on eliminating barriers to participation in such programs. The Council is also charged with examining opportunities for expanding the number of Native American farmers and ranchers and seeking ways to mitigate the effects of land tenure and probate issues on the delivery of farm loan programs.

Please let us know if we may provide any additional information regarding this upcoming meeting.