Weather Forecast


Noem wants tribal relations office

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has introduced legislation that would establish an Office of Tribal Relations within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Noem's legislation -- a proposed amendment to the farm bill -- would require USDA to use existing resources to establish the office, thereby not increasing federal spending, according to a news release from Noem's office.

Such a permanent entity within USDA would help improve communication between USDA and tribal nations and would ensure South Dakota's American Indians have access to USDA's programs, according to the news release. The tribal relations office would be within the office of the USDA secretary.

"This legislation underscores the importance of the nation-to-nation relationship we have with our tribes," Noem said in a written statement. "By establishing this permanent office at USDA, we can ensure that Native Americans have one point of contact for the opportunities available to them through the Department of Agriculture. This office would also be responsible for increasing communication between USDA and tribes across this country. I am optimistic that we'll get this commonsense legislation included in the farm bill."

Noem previously introduced this legislation last year as an amendment to the House Agriculture Committee-passed version of the farm bill. The amendment was adopted and included in the bill passed by the committee. That bill did not receive a vote on the House floor, and the previous farm bill was extended for one year.