Contact your representative TODAY on two key issues
When Congress passed the CARES Act (H.R. 748 – Pub. L. 116-136) on March 27, 2020, it provided essential funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). However, in order to ensure that tribal governments, tribal producers and Indian Country nutrition assistance programs are fully supported, Congress must take additional legislative action.
Working with the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC), join the Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) to tell Congress to provide #FarmRanchHelp because Indian Country #CARES4Ag.
Based on input from across the country, the IAC and NFBC have developed a set of top priorities, policy solutions and infrastructure needs that will help Indian Country food and agriculture through the COVID-19 crisis.
Lower ag loan payments to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis impacts
The NFBC, recognizing assistance provided to agriculture producers across the country in the CARES Act was a strong first step, is urging Congress to provide critical financial relief for on behalf of small and family farmers and ranchers in a manner that will benefit both producers, local economies and taxpayers. In a time of trillion-dollar solutions, this low-cost alternative can truly preserve family farms and the communities in which they exist.
Contact your congressional delegation to urge the passage of legislation that empowers the Secretary of Agriculture to take the following steps:
- Significantly reduce all Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan payments for the 2020 and 2021 production years, and extend all loans by two years;
- Appropriate funding and allow the Secretary to offer payments to lenders if they reduce the interest rate of current loans by 2% and offer the same reduced loan payments and extensions to their borrowers; and
- Authorize the use of FSA Farm Ownership loans to refinance real estate and other debt to aid in recovery from this crisis.
These actions will support producers across the country to not only keep their production going at this critical time but infuse over $1 billion in differed principal payments directly into rural and agriculture economies across the country.
With no action, many of these producers will face delinquency and be forced toward bankruptcy. Our actions suggested above will eliminate the need for primary loan servicing and reduce workload.
Producers will be empowered to make proactive plans to preserve their operation by using the next two years' production income that would normally be spent on loan payments.
The loan payment solution is supported by: United States Cattlemen's Association; Ranchers-Cattlemen Legal Action Fund; Indian Land Tenure Foundation; Akiptan; Native American Agriculture Fund; Native American Natural Foods (Tanka Bar); National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association; NDN Collective; Ecotrust; Community Alliance with Family Farmers; New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association; New Mexico Farm to Table; Croatan Institute; Lakota Funds; Healthy Futures; and New Mexico Healthy Soil Group
Ensure food security through nutrition program access
The CARES Act allocated $100 million for FDPIR to support additional food purchases ($50 million) and facility improvements and equipment upgrades ($50 million). To further promote food security in Indian Country, the NFBC is urging Congress to enact additional provisions that provide increased flexibility, access, and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition assistance programs in upcoming legislation.
Contact your congressional delegation to urge the passage of legislation to empower the Secretary of Agriculture to take the following steps:
- Clarify that the CARES Act FDPIR funding covers administrative costs, reimbursement of emergency food purchases, and allows Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to procure food locally and regionally;
- Waive the non-federal cost share requirement and allow for necessary administrative flexibility for verifications, certifications, and service in FDPIR;
- Temporarily waive prohibition on dual use of SNAP and FDPIR during the same month;
- Increase SNAP’s maximum benefit available to all households by 15% and the minimum benefit from $16 to $30 and delay implementation of the proposed and final SNAP rules; and
- Provide parity and eligibility for tribal governments and ITOs in the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).
See below for more information on these top priorities and additional legislative tasks for building infrastructure for community and food system development supporting resilient food economies in Indian Country: