Importance of new farmers discussed at Tribal Food Sovereignty Summit

Farm Forum

The Midwest tribal forum brought together USDA state and national officials, including Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, to promote the growth of healthy food systems for Native Americans. The annual Food Sovereignty Summit was held at the Oneida Nation in Green Bay, Wis.

Deputy Secretary Harden’s speech to attendees of the summit focused on the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. She said that young people need to be encouraged to make a living off the land. She also told the tribal community that USDA is here to assist and that we have a common goal of feeding the next generation. Deputy Secretary Harden is particularly focused on providing resources for new farmers and Native Americans well into the future.

To mark the importance of this summit, Deputy Secretary Harden, accompanied by USDA Director of Tribal Relations Leslie Wheelock, an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin, visited with representatives of the Oneida and Menomonie Nations. They witnessed firsthand the tribe’s efforts to promote the production and consumption of traditional, healthy foods.

While in Wisconsin, Deputy Secretary Harden received a tour of Oneida’s food distribution program, which, through USDA, supports over 230 Native families. She also stopped by the cannery and later met with staff and students of the College of Menominee Nation.

“It was an honor and privilege to have Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visit the Oneida Reservation and attend the Food Sovereignty Summit. Together we discussed the need to reconnect with the land so that we can achieve the best use of the land and agriculture in addressing the problems we face. I appreciate how she understands that the land can fulfill our needs – health and well-being, economic and business growth – while maintaining our culture,” said Gregory H. Matson, Vice Chairman of the Oneida Tribe.

Before Deputy Secretary Harden spoke at the Food Sovereignty Summit, she toured the Wayside Dairy Farm in Greenleaf, Wis., a multi-generational farm run by Dan Natzke and his family. The dairy utilizes programs through both the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service. The 151 year-old farm is now in its fifth generation of operation.

Deputy Secretary Harden’s message on the importance of new farmers, especially in the tribal community, really resonated with the group. We were proud to host her and look forward to her return.