Haskell Indian Nations University to offer new agriculture business degree

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Haskell Indian Nations University will soon offer a new agriculture business degree program aimed at empowering Native American farmers and ranchers.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the program Tuesday during the American Indian Higher Education Consortium’s Annual Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

“The educational effort will be housed within Haskell’s business school, and the program will cover areas such as lending operations, risk management, regulatory compliance, and customer service, encompassing comprehensive fundamental lending principles that will ultimately improve the relationships Native farmers and ranchers have with their financial institutions,” according to a news release announcing the program.

The program will offer degree and certificate options in agriculture and finance to ensure students have a deep understanding of lending processes specific to Indian Country and the agricultural industry, according to the release. It aims to nurture and empower the next generation of skilled professionals with knowledge of the unique requirements of Tribal agriculture production and lending.

“We are excited to create new and exciting opportunities for our students and the communities they come from,” Mackie Moore, dean of Haskell’s College of Business, said in the release. “Through education and economic development opportunities we see the growth of, not only agriculture practices being used for basic sustainable food, but business opportunities.”

The program is in partnership with the Native American Agriculture Fund, a trust that manages funds from a settlement in Keepseagle v. Vilsack. The case, which alleged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in loan programs for decades, settled in 2010.

“At NAAF, we are proud to support educational entities like Haskell as the stewards of education in our tribal communities and hope the certificate programs will become a useful tool in educating both students and non-students that serve their tribal communities,” NAAF CEO Toni Stanger-McLaughlin said in the release. “This new engagement will build off our work in providing access to capital through Community Development Financial Institutions and the creation of a new Other Financing Institution within the Farm Credit System called Native Agriculture Financial Services.”

Haskell President Frank Arpan said in the release that the university looks forward to working with the NAAF to advance career opportunities and skillsets available to Native communities and individuals.

“Through this grant, we hope to expand valuable resources to Native communities in the areas of agribusiness and beyond,” he said.

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Gray coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, is a long blooming native perennial whose name refers to the gray cone under the brown disk florets, here being visited by a bumblebee interested in their sweet nectar.

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