Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  The Senate Agriculture Committee this week passed its version of the 2007 Farm Bill. Senator John Thune, a member of the committee, was successful in getting several important provisions for Indian Country included in the bill.

"The 2007 Farm Bill impacts farmers, ranchers and consumers across South Dakota and the country," said Thune. "It is critical that the special needs of Native communities and producers are adequately addressed by this important legislation."

At Senator Thune's request, the Agriculture Committee's bill expands the successful Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program to a minimum of 100 Indian Tribal Organizations across the country. Although the House of Representatives-passed bill expanded the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program nationwide, it did not expand access to Indian Reservations. The Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program was started in the 2002 Farm Bill as a pilot program. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was chosen as one of three reservations to participate in the pilot program. Thanks to Senator Thune's efforts this program will be expanded to over 100 Indian Reservations nationwide.

"A healthy diet is key to a long life and good health," said Thune. "Including a provision in the Farm Bill to help supply fresh fruits and vegetables to tribal organizations throughout the nation is good for overall tribal health and for agricultural producers."

Senator Thune also offered an amendment to the Farm Bill to authorize $5 million per year for the purchase and distribution of traditional, locally-grown food produced by Native American farmers, ranchers, and producers. The amendment was unanimously agreed to by the members of the Agriculture Committee.

"It is important for the federal government to assist tribes in the development and implementation of individually tailored nutrition programs," said Thune. "Tribes need the means to purchase locally grown crops such as wild rice and corn as well as tribally raised bison and salmon. Tribes should also have the opportunity to provide their own locally grown fresh foods for tribal assistance programs. I am pleased that my fellow Committee Members agreed to add this important measure to the 2007 Farm Bill."

The bill will now be considered by the entire Senate.