Native American Agriculture Fund grants may help Native American farmers and ranchers navigate a challenging economic climate due to COVID.
The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) was established after the 1999 Keepseagle v. Vilsack class-action lawsuit settlement. The suit alleged discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers by the United States Department of Agriculture in loan programs and the servicing of loans dating back to 1981. As part of that settlement, the NAAF has 20 years to distribute its grant funds to 501(c)3 organizations, educational organizations, CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions) and Native CDFIs, and Tribal governments.
In 2019, the Native American Agriculture Fund awarded a total of 80 grants to places like the American Indian Graduate Center for $150,000 to enable the center to provide scholarships through the Wilson Hooper Veterinary Medicine Assistance Program and to host workshops for Native high school students interested in agricultural degrees.
“Native farmers, ranchers, fishers, harvesters and community food champions are all key to the success of Native food systems and diversification of our agriculture economies. During times such as these, we are reminded just how important it is to support those who feed us and those whose lives are dedicated to building solid food systems,” said Janie Hipp (Chickasaw), NAAF CEO. “Since NAAF launched in 2018, our board of trustees and staff have worked diligently to craft a strategy that can realize the promise we knew was possible when NAAF was created. During challenging times, it is even more important that we keep this work moving forward. We are honored to announce this second request for applications to support Native agriculture.”
While this year’s applications are due June 1, NAAF is offering a two-week flexibility period during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We are deeply aware of the hardship and uncertainty facing our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively, we must make an even greater commitment to Native agriculture to ensure food for our people,” NAAF states on its website.
“Like our farmers, ranchers, fishers and food people, we are in this for the long haul and we know it will take concerted efforts to stabilize our communities. By releasing our 2020 RFA now, we seek to do our part to bolster Native agriculture. Please know we will be flexible in supporting applicants who face challenges applying,” NAAF concludes.
This flexibility means that while the application remains due on June 1, 2020 by 11:59 p.m. Central Time, if applicants are having trouble with Internet connectivity, obtaining signatures from key officials or representatives, still submit by the deadline, but notify NAAF by email at [email protected] to request flexibility and ensure the ability to submit additional information. Applicants requesting flexibility will receive an additional two weeks until June 15, 2020 at 11:59 CT to submit their finalized application.
To apply, visit: https://nativeamericanagriculturefund.org/2020-rfa/.