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Conference Name People of the Land: Sustaining American Indian Agriculture

Staci Emm and Loretta Singletary


American Indian farmers and ranchers are socially disadvantaged due to the impacts of historical federal Indian policies, significant disparities in education and income levels, and issues that accompany geographic isolation and Indian land tenure designations. While American Indian farmer and ranch operations contribute significantly to the economic base of rural reservations, opportunities exist to increase the profitability and sustainability of operations. There are several federal assistance programs that are designed to sustain rural reservation communities and grow reservation economies. The 2018 Farm Bill provisions offer considerable opportunities for American Indian tribes and individual farmers and ranchers to participate in USDA assistance programs. On most American Indian reservations, however, these programs are underutilized. People of the Land: Sustaining American Indian Agriculture in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Washington (Emm & Singletary, 2009) is a WSARE Professional Development program that focuses on successful strategies for increasing the adoption of sustainable practices on reservation lands. The Extension curriculum teaches professionals who seek to work with American Indian tribes and/or individual producers about the role of federal Indian policy and reservation governance. The purpose of the curriculum is to strengthen the capacity of agriculture and natural resource professionals to work more effectively with American Indian tribes and individual producers on Indian reservations.