The food supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 begin with the very sources of food. While the pandemic made food issues more pronounced across the United States, in Native communities, it only exacerbated circumstances already faced.
Beginning in March 2020, closures of meat processing facilities broadly impacted consumers and food producers alike, as shown by an increase in on-shelf meat prices; a decrease in available meat protein at the consumer and retail levels; and the forcing of farmers and ranchers to have to euthanize, give away, or retain market-ready livestock resulting in further economic losses.
There is an urgent need to create and support more resilient meat supply chains across Indian Country by focusing on building capacity and infrastructure at the community level to ensure that local producers and consumers have reliable access to sustainably-managed, high-quality protein.
To address this challenge in Native communities, in 2020 First Nations launched the pilot initiative, Forging Last Mile Protein Supply Chains in Indian Country. This project provided grants and technical assistance to six tribes and Native-owned businesses to strengthen local protein supply chains. It also supported the development of a resource publication to help tribes invest in meat processing facilities in their communities.
This webinar series shares valuable information from the forthcoming resource publication and of various models being used in Native communities to strengthen protein supply chains and ultimately Tribal food sovereignty.
Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 1 to 2:30 pm, MT
First Nations partnered with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas School of Law to develop a resource publication to provide essential information on what to consider when investing in meat processing facilities in tribal communities. This webinar covers topics from the publication, including why it is important for Tribal food sovereignty to invest in local protein processing facilities, as well as the associated regulations, certifications, and water and labor considerations. An overview of some model Tribal food codes are also featured. The presentation is followed by a question and answer session.
Carly Griffith Hotvedt, JD, MPA (Cherokee), Associate Director, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law, is a citizen of Cherokee Nation living on the Muscogee Reservation in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is a seasoned legal professional, admitted to practice in Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation, and Muscogee Nation, with an affinity for government law, agriculture, tribal policy and public administration. In her current role, she regularly interfaces with tribes and tribal organizations to advance Tribal food sovereignty by empowering tribes to engage in regulatory, economic development; outreach; and investment in tribal food economies and individual Indigenous producers.
Prior to joining IFAI, she organized and directed the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Muscogee (Creek) Nation, where she also supported the legislative creation of the Division, which reorganized the agricultural and related operations under the same programmatic umbrella. She then initiated an overhaul of the Agribusiness operation resulting in a 70%+ loss margin reduction, improved agriculture asset quality, improved herd health, and improved transparency and public accountability for the operation. She also set the program on track for sustainable operation.
Carly clerked for the late Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marion Opala while in law school. She maintains a perfect success record in the Courts of the Cherokee Nation. She holds a BS in agribusiness and a BS in political science from Oklahoma State University, a JD from the University of Oklahoma, and a Masters of Public Administration from OU-Tulsa.
Spencer Torbett, JD (Mvskoke (Creek) Nation), is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, an attorney, and the policy officer for IFAI. He has been with IFAI since June 2020. Before joining IFAI, he worked as an Indian Law attorney in Oklahoma, serving a number of tribes and tribal citizens.
Wednesday, February 23, 2022 12 to 1:30 pm MT
The second installment of the Protein Supply Chain Webinar Series shares real-world examples of how three First Nations community partners successfully strengthened meat supply chains in their communities.
Hear from presenters from the Oneida Nation, the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Buffalo Authority Corporation on how they carried out projects ranging from conducting feasibility studies, to building a meat processing plant, to purchasing a turn-key meat processing operation and locating a suitable retail storefront.
Vanessa Miller (Oneida Nation), Area Manager-Food and Agriculture, has worked for the Oneida Nation Environmental Health, Safety, Land, And Agriculture Division for 12 years, with 11 years of experience in Environmental and Public Health as a Registered Sanitarian in the State of Wisconsin. Acting in a regulatory role for the Nation under Oneida’s own Food Service Law, Vanessa has experience in tribal food code and policy development and advocating for self-regulation. Recently, Vanessa has transitioned to the Food and Agriculture area to help create and implement a long-term food sovereignty strategic plan, recognizing the significance food plays in the overall health of indigenous communities.
Peter Lengkeek is the current Tribal Chairman for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Ft. Thompson, South Dakota. His vision and goals are to bring food sovereignty to the members of CCST Oyate. Peter is Hunkpati Dakota and a United States Marine Corp Veteran.
Tim Pickner is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in Ft. Thompson, South Dakota. He has been involved in the meat processing industry for over 40 years. Tim is certified in all areas of meat processing and is a certified trainer. He will be the co-director and trainer for the Hunkpati Processors.
Jayme Murray is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and is a sixth-generation cow/calf rancher on the Cheyenne River Reservation. He graduated from Isabel High School in Isabel, South Dakota, and attended South Dakota State University on a rodeo scholarship where he received his BS degree in Range Science. Upon graduation, Jayme returned to Cheyenne River with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the Land Operations Officer. He went on to become the Deputy Agency Superintendent for Trust Services and was the Fiduciary Trust Officer at the end of his 20-year government career. Jayme now works as the CEO of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Buffalo Authority Corporation, where he oversees the operations and management of a 1,200-head buffalo herd, a 200-head beef cattle herd, and West Side Meats. West Side Meats is the corporation’s state-inspected processing facility in Mobridge, South Dakota.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 12 to 1 pm MT
Strengthening protein supply chains in Indian Country goes beyond investing in meat processing facilities. There are also upstream and downstream considerations, such as providing support to local ranchers to ensure there is transport, staging areas, and cold storage close to meat processing facilities, and — after meat is processed — working with community retailers that can market products. Investing in human capital by training local butchers who can further process meats at the retailer level, create value-added products, and educate consumers is also important.
Join us for the final installment of the Protein Supply Chain Webinar Series and hear from Trilogy Beef Community, LLC. and Major Market, Inc. — two for-profit businesses — on how they are strengthening meat supply chains in Native communities in the Southwest.
Manny Encinias, Ph.D., works daily in multiple capacities to protect the traditions and enhance the future of family-owned agriculture enterprises, as well as strengthen local food networks. Dr. Encinias is the founder and president of Trilogy Beef Community, LLC, and also owns and manages the daily operations of the Buffalo Creek Ranch in Central New Mexico as part of a fifth-generation ranching family operation raising registered and commercial Angus, Charolais, and Maine-Anjou cattle. Additionally, Dr. Encinias owns Now We’re Ranching Cattle Management Services, a professional services company that improves the profit margin of diversified cattle operations by implementing integrated management systems with key products and tools to improve the value of cattle, manage operational expenditures, accurately assess risk, and enhance business management portfolios of employee teams. In an educational capacity, Dr. Encinias is the chair for the Department of Ag, Animal and Farrier Sciences, at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and works as a practicum examiner for the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Encinias also serves on the national advisory board for the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network and the five-state planning committee for the Western Meat School.
Since 2002, Dr. Encinias has worked in an advising and mentoring role for numerous Native American ranchers and tribally owned-managed grazing associations and livestock enterprises. As a Ph.D. cattle nutritionist, trained at North Dakota State University, Dr. Encinias has worked with Native American ranchers to improve grazing management and develop site-specific supplementation programs on tribally owned lands. Furthermore, Dr. Encinias has mentored Native American beef producers on genetic improvement and marketing strategies to improve the quality and value of Native American-produced cattle. Today, Dr. Encinias also works in an advisory capacity to Native American Tribes and individual beef producers in the development of consumer-direct, value-added marketing channels for Native American beef.
Darrell Tsabetsaye is the owner, founder and president and CEO of Major Market Inc., a New Mexico-registered company since 1988. Major Market Inc. specializes in retail and wholesale food service, fresh deli, meats, and provides a Starbucks Coffee operation. Additional business activities include raising Black Angus Beef with family members under a for-profit operation. He serves as consultant to other Native and tribally owned enterprises on economic development and farm to table food concepts. Tsabetsaye is also experienced in drafting and attending congressional and New Mexico State Legislative hearings, and he recently worked on the Ft. Wingate Land Division between the Zuni and Navajo Tribal Nations, as well as planning for Solar and Alternative energy initiatives for Native Nations.
Tsabetsaye graduated from the University of New Mexico – American Indian Law Center and received additional accreditation from the University of Arizona – Native Nations Institute. He is a successful entrepreneur and working to provide guidance and technical assistance to Native American individuals and tribal enterprises.
Shaun Tsabetsaye, tribal member of Zuni Pueblo, was born and raised in Zuni. He holds an Executive MBA degree, a BS in electrical engineering, and an MSE in semiconductors and electronics manufacturing. Tsabetsaye has a combined 20 years of engineering, analytics and project management experience at Intel Corporation and NextEra Energy Resources. He is an AISES Sequoyah Fellow and member of the Corporate Advisory Council and he has been involved with AISES since 1994. By day, Tsabetsaye is a senior project manager for utility scale renewable energy development, and by night and weekends, he supports the family business in all things technology, marketing, and management.