The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Indian Affairs have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve tribes’ and tribal members’ access to farm conservation programs to advance conservation in Indian Country.

The MOU was signed in Catoosa, where USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey was joined by BIA Director Darryl LaCounte at the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance-National Tribal Conservation Districts Conference, organized by the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance.

The MOU enables USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency to work with BIA to improve assistance to American Indians and Alaska Natives in addressing the agricultural, conservation and economic needs of tribal communities on Indian lands. This creates a foundation for improved coordination, training, planning and implementation of USDA programs on tribal lands.

”We believe that providing greater efficiency and access to conservation programs, while limiting redundancies, is crucial to helping tribal communities maximize their agricultural production,” Northey said in a statement. “Tribal landowners and land users play an important role in the management of agricultural land, and USDA looks forward to partnering with BIA to support the economic stability of tribal lands.”

The five-year agreement also will enhance USDA and BIA’s efforts to promote best management practices for Indian lands, including the development of rural business opportunities, the management of farm and ranching operations, infrastructure development and stewardship of environmental, cultural and natural resources on Indian lands.

BIA will provide resource inventory, planning and management, and development assistance to Indian tribes, Indian landowners and land users.

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