Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

The Native American Agriculture Fund Champions Efforts to Bring John Deere Agricultural Equipment to Indian Country


January 26, 2021

Fayetteville, Arkansas-The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) congratulates the Akana Group, Inc. (Akana) and John Deere as they work together to provide government sales business opportunities for small businesses and Native American business enterprises.

Akana is a certified Native American owned small business enterprise specializing in connecting Native American governments and their related enterprises with important opportunities to access equipment purchasing offered by John Deere. Native American governments and many of their current and emerging businesses are engaged in more and more agricultural business activities that not only provide diversification of their business into the agriculture sector, but also produce food for use by their communities.

Akana has deep knowledge of various equipment categories important to Tribes, including agriculture, construction, forestry and lawn care. Akana’s relationship with John Deere is already providing important third-party assistance to connect Tribes to meet their equipment needs. Part of the agreement between Akana and John Deere is to leverage the strength of the John Deere dealer network to assist with both the delivery of any new equipment purchase, as well as the parts and service support needed to make the customer successful for the long term.

Agriculture continues to grow in Indian Country. NAAF, in its unique role as the largest philanthropic organization providing grant funding opportunities in support of Native farmers and ranchers, is already seeing many Tribes submit applications for scaling up their existing operations, finding new markets and making more efforts to achieve food security and economic diversification. With over 50 million acres of land in Indian Country already engaged in agriculture production, and those numbers growing, the need for equipment continues to grow. Many farmers are finding that even within a global health crisis and in the face of various disruptions in supply chain, the demand for more food production is leading to increased purchases in equipment or taking the next step to upgrade existing equipment.

Several months ago, NAAF and Akana began discussions, which have now broadened to include John Deere. NAAF knows the importance of making the right equipment decision, and the ability of Tribal governments and their affiliated entities to access pre-negotiated discount rates for equipment purchases will greatly increase opportunities for investment and can provide the edge needed.

“We look forward to working alongside the Akana Group and John Deere to bring this important opportunity to Indian Country leadership. Agriculture investments are on the rise, and we have ongoing needs for forestry, construction and turf equipment. We are thrilled to see where these new friends of NAAF will take us,” says Janie Hipp, CEO of NAAF.

Hipp’s own grandfather had a small tractor dealership in Southeast Oklahoma during her youth and she remembers how important equipment is to the success of new, beginning or well-established farms and ranches.

“Equipment needs never end,” says Hipp. “Many of the first conversations I had with Native farmers and ranchers in the early days of NAAF were around their equipment needs. If Tribal governments and their affiliated organizations can be the bridge to improving Indian Country’s access to equipment that can in turn support our continued commitment to our agriculture economies, we will all be the better for it. We look forward to deepening our relationship with John Deere and to explore all opportunities before us to make sure that Indian Country has access to the equipment it needs.”

“It is with great excitement to learn of this relationship between NAAF, the Akana Group and John Deere,” said Dr. David Yarlott, President of Little Big Horn College. “This opens up opportunities to Indian Country in the agricultural area, which includes Tribal Colleges and Universities. Growing up farming, and now ranching, I have first-hand experience in the challenges of having access to agricultural equipment. Being a President of a 1994 Land Grant Tribal College, I look forward to how we might be able to assist our local Native Farmers and Ranchers!”

About the Native American Agriculture Fund

The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) provides grants to eligible organizations for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services to support Native farmers and ranchers. The charitable trust was created by the settlement of the landmark Keepseagle v. Vilsack class-action lawsuit. NAAF is the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native American farming and ranching community.


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