USDA and AIHEC Increase Cooperation

May 15th, 2010 | By | Category: 21-4: Native American Studies, Summer 2010, Tribal College News

On February 25, 2010, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack signed an updated Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to promote increased cooperation between USDA, tribally controlled colleges and universities (TCUs), and American Indian/Alaska Native communities. The MOA reaffirms the partnership between AIHEC and USDA to assist in fulfilling the 2002 Farm Bill’s mandate that USDA establish programs ensuring that TCUs and American Indian/Alaska Native communities participate equitably in USDA employment, programs, and activities.

“This MOA is an important step forward in our efforts to expand cooperation and consultation between USDA and tribal colleges,” said Vilsack. “The Obama administration is committed to supporting the critical role tribal colleges have played in improving the lives of Native Americans, and to ensuring that they enjoy full access to USDA programs and services.”

The parties will focus on strengthening the capacities of AIHEC member institutions and supporting their full integration into USDA programs and services, as well as the Land Grant System and its programs. The agreement will also promote food and agricultural science careers and professional attainment among students attending AIHEC member institutions; promote employment opportunities within USDA for students attending AIHEC member institutions, and support the development of AIHEC. The first agreement was signed in 1998 and was updated in 2008.

The MOA is an extension of President Obama’s prior recognition of the importance of Tribal Colleges.

The renewed USDA and AIHEC MOA acknowledges the role of 1994 TCUs to the nation’s food security and to tribal self-determination through their cultural and other science based educational programs that function to improve local economies, re-invigorate the use of ancestral foods to address nutritional issues that lead to diabetes and obesity, and to develop energy programs that have the potential to benefit all Americans. In November 2009, senior USDA officials met with tribal leaders and members from across the country to expand cooperation and consultation between the USDA and tribal nations.

Participants in the signing ceremony included Janie Hipp, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Office of Tribal Relations, who serves as the USDA Co-Chair on the USDA and AIHEC Leadership Group; Carrie Billy, AIHEC President and CEO; and presidents from the 1994 Land Grant Institutions across the Nation.

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