Scientists helping the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe restore its land to raise cattle received a $5 million federal grant—one of seven announced May 5 as part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Initiative to boost local food systems and reduce hunger, reported the Associated Press.
The federal money comes nearly three years after North Dakota State University researchers and the reservation’s Sitting Bull College began testing ways to improve ranching techniques for tribal members. The goal is to increase beef production and ultimately develop a food processing center on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which straddles North and South Dakota and covers about 2.2 million acres—home to about 9,000 people.
Poor management over the course of time has lead to “degraded range land, low grass production and large prairie dog towns,” stated the AP.
“There are a lot of reasons why an intervention here makes sense,” Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan told the AP.