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USDA Secretary Vilsack Engages with Tribal Leaders at NCAI, Announces $62M for Indian Country Initiatives

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spent an hour at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) general assembly on Wednesday, announcing significant new funding and engaging directly with tribal leaders to hear their concerns.

During his remarks, Vilsack outlined $62 million in funding for forestry and food sovereignty in Indian Country. USDA will award $42 million to eight projects under the Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program. An additional 23 projects will receive $18 million under the agency's Tribal Forest Protection Act's self-determination program, Finally, five Native-led organizations will receive a total of $2.3 million to support providing Indigenous foods in school meal programs.

One highlighted project includes the Eastern Band of Cherokee receiving $6.5 million for a meat processing center, which will help process cattle, hog, sheep, deer, and more. The facility will allow the Eastern Band to establish a meat and fish brand as an economic driver and a way to feed the community.


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