Secretary Vilsack appoints members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching
WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the re-appointment of eight members and the appointment of three new members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. As an advisory committee, the Council provides recommendations to the Secretary on changes to Farm Service Agency (FSA) regulations and other measures that would eliminate barriers to program participation for Native American farmers and ranchers.
“Over the previous two years the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching has provided recommendations meant to help tribal governments, businesses, farmers and ranchers partner with USDA to create jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen tribal communities, and I look forward to a continuation of their progress,” Vilsack said.
The Council will continue to promote the participation of Native American farmers and ranchers in all USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established under the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture in furtherance of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack settlement agreement, which was granted final approval by the District Court for the District of Columbia on April 28, 2011.
The Council consists of fifteen members, including four USDA officials and eleven Native American leaders and reprsentatives. Members of the Council are appointed for two-year terms by the Secretary. The appointees include: Native American (American Indian and Alaska Native) farmers or ranchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations that work with Native farmers and ranchers; civil rights professionals; educators; tribal elected leaders; senior USDA officials; and other persons the Secretary deems appropriate.
The following individuals are appointed to the Council:
• John Berrey, Chairman of Quapaw Tribe, (Quapaw), Sperry, Okla.
• Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, (Oglala Sioux), Kyle, S.D.
• Gilbert Harrison, Rancher, (Navajo), Shiprock, N.M.*
• Henry Holder, Farmer/Rancher, (Choctaw), Soper, Okla.*
• Derrick Lente, Attorney and Farmer/Rancher, (Sandia Pueblo), Sandia Pueblo, N.M.
• Jerry McPeak, Farmer/Rancher and State Legislator, (Muscogee Creek), Warner, Okla.*
• Angela Sandstol, Natural Resources and Conservation Official, (Native Village of Tyonek), Tyonek, Alaska*
• Edward Soza, Rancher/Tribal Council Member (Soboba), Banning, Calif.*
• Mary Thompson, Farmer/Rancher, (Eastern Band of Cherokee), Cherokee, N.C.*
• Sarah Vogel, Civil Rights Attorney and Former two-term Agricultural Commissioner for North Dakota, Bismarck, N.D.*
• Mark Wadsworth, Natural Resources/Range Management, (Shoshone-Bannock), Blackfoot, Idaho*
(*Denotes those re-appointed)
Four USDA officials are also appointed to the Council:
• Chris Beyerhelm, Director, Farm Loan Programs, Farm Service Agency;
• Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency;
• Dr. Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights;
• Leslie Wheelock (Oneida), Director, Office of Tribal Relations.
The Council will hold its next meeting during the fall of 2014. The Council will continue to work closely with the Office of Tribal Relations, Farm Service Agency and other USDA agencies to improve the success of Native farmers and ranchers who access USDA’s entire portfolio of programs to build and achieve profitability in their businesses.