Native American agriculture and food systems
Challenges and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic
Keywords:Agriculture, Food Systems, Native Americans, COVID-19, Pandemic, Intertribal Agriculture Council, American Indian/Alaska Native, Food Sovereignty, Supply Chains
The COVID-19 pandemic has unveiled deep and systemic weaknesses and gross inequalities in U.S. food and farming systems, compounding the effects of an already unjust food and agricultural system. Emergent studies reveal disproportionate effects of the pandemic on minority farmers and vulnerable communities, as well as inequitable access to critical relief programs. Less is understood about the experiences and responses of Native American producers, tribal governments, and tribal-led organizations to the COVID-19 crisis. As the nation’s primary Native American agriculture and natural resources organization, serving 574 Federally Recognized Tribal communities throughout the United States, the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) received a resounding increase in inquiries during the pandemic pertaining to a number of challenges that tribal producers and governments face. In response, IAC launched a series of national surveys to assess the impacts and needs of Native American producers, tribal governments, and grocery stores in and near tribal communities, with the goal of identifying effective strategies to address tribal priorities in policy and programming. As we continue to learn about the causes and consequences of food system ruptures during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that increased investment in and sovereignty over decentralized regional food and farming systems’ infrastructure and markets are needed to strengthen the economic viability and resilience of Native American agriculture and food systems.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Megan Mucioki, Elizabeth Hoover, Jennifer Sowerwine, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Keir Johnson-Reyes, Latashia Redhouse, Dan Cornelius
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