Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack named members of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching, a committee established as part of the Keepseagle settlement agreement. The Keepseagle lawsuit alleged that over a period of several decades, the U.S. Department of Agriculture denied Native Americans access to the Farm Loan Program. The settlement also required the USDA to pay $680 million in damages.
Members of the Council will advise Vilsack on issues relating to Native American participation in USDA programs. Vilsack said, “The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching will help Native governments, businesses, farmers and ranchers and tribal governments partner with USDA to create jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen tribal communities.” The Council is comprised of American Indian farmers and ranchers, tribal leaders, educators, and senior USDA officials, according to a press release issued yesterday by the USDA.