Call In + Voice Out: Tribal Food Sovereignty

Quick Action Required Today to Support Tribal Food Sovereignty and Protect Small and POC Farmers’ Access to Credit

UPDATE: When the Senate Agriculture Committee convenes on Wed (SEE HERE TO WATCH)

This is a quick informational blog about four amendments that require quick action in the form of your input to the Senate Agriculture Committee today.

1. Is your Senator on the agriculture committee? Scroll down to the bottom [or click here] to see the complete list.

2. If these are your Senators, now is the time to call and urge them to support the Smith-Heitkamp amendment, support the Grassley amendment and to oppose both Hoven amendments. These are the positions endorsed by Rural Coalition and our allies:

Yes – Smith–Heitkamp 638 Amendment to support Tribal Food Sovereignty
Yes – on both Grassley Amendments to support Payment Limits and #2 on Loan guarantee reform
No – Against Hoeven Amendment Number 1
No – Hoeven Amendment Number 10 – Don’t Increase FSA Loan sizes and shut out small farmers

3. Need more information? Here are more detailed amendment descriptions:

Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), a new member of the Agriculture Committee, along with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) has filed The SMITH HEITKAMP “638” AMENDMENT, which would provide tribal authority over the operation of all federally funded supplemental nutrition assistance programs. Tribal “638” administration will help restore tribal food sovereignty, and provide better food assistance to more Indian households in need.

As the Native Farm Bill Coalition explains, “Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and tribal allies have always said tribal control over tribal food programs results in the maximum benefit. Tribal self-determination has proven to always be the most cost-effective approach. Because tribes are so experienced at administering very complex federal programs and services under the Indian Self-Determination Act authority, it makes sense to extend “638” authority to the operation of all federally funded supplemental nutrition assistance programs. Tribes have also asked that this authority be applied to all food-related job assistance and training funds that are tied to work or training requirements.”

The Bill is co-sponsored by Senators Udall (D-NM), Heitkamp (D-ND), Warren (D-MA), Baldwin (D-WI), Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Harris (D-CA).

Senator Hoeven of South Dakota has submitted two bad amendments for committee markup on Wednesday that would double all direct loan limits, and increase guaranteed loan limits to $2.5M.
• Hoeven #1: Would raise the individual loan limit on guaranteed loans from $1.39 million to $2.5 million; also raises cap on direct loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
• Hoeven #10: raises the individual loan limit on guaranteed loans from $1.39 million to $1.75 million; also raises cap on direct loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
Rural Coalition agrees with a number of allies that increasing loan limits is detrimental to small farmers in the following ways:
• Guaranteed loans are often used to reduce the risk of investment in high cost specialized livestock operations under production contracts. While ownership loans can last as long as 15 – 20 years, the contracts can be changed or cut off at any time, with no guarantee of placements. Large guarantees transition the risk associated with these contracts from the bank to the taxpayer, and leave the producer trapped at the mercy of the company.
• In a budget-constrained environment, increased FSA loan limits will almost certainly result in fewer, but larger loans, reducing credit availability to the small and mid-scale farms, including many beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, for which the program is intended. There is no linkage between the increased loan limits and any increase in program appropriations.
• Even at the current loan limits, guaranteed lenders have failed to meet the statutory target participation rates for both beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Any increase in maximum loan amounts will create an economic advantage to more-established and larger operations and decrease the likelihood that guaranteed lenders will meet their statutory obligations.

And Urge them to Support – Both Grassley Amendments – See the Running List of Amendments

Once again, please contact members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and encourage them to vote for the Smith Heitkamp 638 amendment, for both Grassley Amendments, and against both Hoeven amendments on farm loan limits.

U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture

Pat Roberts (R-KS)
LD: Amber Kirchhoefer

Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
LD: Katelyn Conner

John Boozman (R-AK)
LD: Mackensie Burt

John Hoeven (R-ND)
LD: Dan Auger

Joni Ernst (R-IA)
LD: Jena McNeill

Charles Grassley (R-IA)
LD: James Rice

John Thune (R-SD)
LD: Jessica McBride

Steve Daines (R-MT)
LD: Darin Thacker

David Perdue (R-GA)
LD: John Eunice

Deb Fischer (R-NE)
LD: Emily Leviner

Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
LD: Tim Wolverton

Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
LD: Emily Carwell

Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
LD: Erica Chabot

Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
LD: Jeremy Hekhuis

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
LD: Anne Knapke

Michael Bennet (D-CO)
LD: Brian Appel

Kristian Gillibrand (D-NY)
LD: Brooke Jamison

Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
LD: Katie Campbell

Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
LD: Tracee Sutton

Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
LD: Derek Miller

Tina Smith (D-MN)
LD: Gohar Sedighi