Senate approves farm bill amendment establishing Office of Tribal Relations

The amendment to the farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 3240), is sponsored by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). The amendment was passed by voice vote. 

"This office was created to ensure the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] upholds federal Indian policy and maintains its government-to-government relationship with tribes," Akaka said Tuesday. "Permanently establishing this will ensure that tribal governments can develop their programs in parity with their neighbors in rural America and will ensure that the USDA consults with tribal governments and that tribes can participate in programs related to agricultural, infrastructure, and economic opportunities."

The chamber also approved another amendment by Akaka by voice vote to "improve a provision" on loans for people seeking to buy Native American lands. 

The Senate voted down an amendment by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), 38-61, aimed at improving value-added grants for agricultural producers.

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