Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack strengthened the consultation and coordination process with Indian tribes by signing a Departmental Regulation that “establishes over-arching Department-wide guidance” today according to a United States Department of Agriculture press release.
"This Regulation is intended to ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have full access to the programs and services offered by the Department," Vilsack said. "To achieve this goal it is essential that all agencies of USDA engage with tribes in timely and meaningful consultation on policies that directly affect one or more tribes."
The new process fills the requirements presented by President Barack Obama’s 2009 Memorandum of Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on Tribal Consultation. The approval directs the USDA and its agencies to provide federally recognized tribes the opportunity to consult in policy development and program activities that directly and substantially effect tribes.
The policy also outlined a criteria for agencies to use in identifying actions required and established a minimum requirements list for consultation and coordination that will hold agency heads accountable.
According to the Regulation a USDA Tribal Consultation Database will be established by the Office of Tribal Relations and all agencies will be accountable for administrative records to be retained. The Regulation also states, “All USDA agencies and personnel shall respect and uphold the sovereignty of all Federally-recognized Tribal governments."