WASHINGTON (AP) – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has named the members of a council created in a 2010 settlement to ensure Native American farmers and ranchers have access to Department of Agriculture programs.
The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching is part of the $680 million Keepseagle lawsuit settlement. The 1999 lawsuit was named after George and Marilyn Keepseagle of Fort Yates, North Dakota. It contended Indian farmers and ranchers were denied USDA loans over several decades.
The council will suggest changes to Farm Service Agency regulations and make proposals to improve Native American participation in the loan program and other USDA programs. The 16-member council reports to the secretary and is made up of Native Americans and four USDA officials. Its first meeting is this summer.
Those appointed to the Council include:
Gilbert Harrison, Rancher, (Navajo Nation), Shiprock, N.M.
Henry Holder, Farmer/Rancher, (Choctaw Nation), Soper, Okla.
Michael Jandreau, Tribal Chairman, (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe) Lower Brule, SD
Gerald Lunak, Natural Resources Director, (Blackfeet Nation), Cut Bank, Mont.
Jerry McPeak, Farmer/Rancher and State Legislator, (Muscogee Nation), Warner, Okla.
Lance Morgan, CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc., (Winnebago Tribe of Neb.), Winnebago, Neb.
Angela Sandstol, Natural Resources and Conservation official, (Native Tribe of Tyonek), Tyonek, Alaska
Edward Soza, Farmer/Rancher, (Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians), Banning, Calif.
Mary Thompson, Farmer/Rancher, (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians), Cherokee, N.C.
Sarah Vogel, Civil Rights Attorney and former Agricultural Commissioner for North Dakota, Bismarck, N.D.
Mark Wadsworth, Natural Resources/Range Management, (Shoshone-Bannock Tribes), Blackfoot, Idaho
Four (4) USDA officials are also appointed to the Council:
Dr. Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights;
Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw Nation), Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Tribal Relations;
Bruce Nelson, Administrator, Farm Service Agency;
Chris Beyerhelm, Director, Farm Loan Programs, Farm Service Agency;
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