May 25, 2016

Initial, one-month eligibility application window closes June 24

WASHINGTON D.C. – The application process is now open for § 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, § 7871 non-profit organizations chartered under the tribal law of a state or federally recognized tribe, educational institutions, and instrumentalities of state or federally recognized tribes to seek grants under the Native American Agricultural Fast Track Fund (NAAFTF). 

Starting today at noon MDT, prospective applicants can find full details about eligibility, application requirements, allowable use of funds, review process overview, and timeline at www.indianfarmclass.com/NAAFTF.aspx.  The website provides specific guidance on the initial application, which involves the submission of a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) with documentation by June 24.  It also offers FAQs, sample resolution language, and other tools for prospective applicants, and is the vehicle for submitting applications online.

Additionally, a technical assistance webinar will be offered on Wednesday, June 1, at 11:00 a.m. MDT for prospective applicants.  Registration for the webinar may be made through the website.  The webinar will be recorded and available on the website for reference.

A dedicated email address and telephone hotline have been established to provide technical assistance: keepseaglefasttrack@echohawkconsulting.com and (877) 544-9145.

NAAFTF was created as a one-time distribution of $38 million to qualified tribes and organizations as part of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack Settlement. 

Eligible applicants must have provided business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, or advocacy services to Native American farmers or ranchers between January 1, 1981, and November 1, 2010; and plan to use grant monies to provide support to Native farmers and/or ranchers and assist those who are interested in becoming farmers or ranchers.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible.  A brief LOI with appropriate documentation must be submitted no later than Friday, June 24, 2016, by 5:00 p.m. MDT.  The LOI must be accompanied with a resolution adopted by the relevant tribal council or organization’s board.

This one-month window for the submission of LOI applications is the first step in the fast-track process.  After LOIs are reviewed by an advisory committee, applicants which meet eligibility requirements and align with the purposes of NAAFTF will receive an invitation on July 28 to submit full proposals, due September 2, 2016.  With the further assistance of the advisory committee, Class Counsel will submit award recommendations to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on October 17, 2016.

Background

On April 20, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved a modification to the Keepseagle settlement agreement, which included a process for the distribution of funds to cy pres beneficiaries.  The modification to the settlement also provides for additional damage awards to be paid to prevailing claimants.  The remaining funds, approximately $265 million, will go to a Trust that will distribute funds at the direction of an independent board of trustees for up to 20 years.  NAAFTF is separate from the Trust, and is designed to ensure that a substantial portion of the remaining funds are distributed to qualifying organizations much more quickly than the Trust will be able to begin making grants.

NAAFTF was created to make awards to such organizations already involved in supporting Native American ranchers and farmers before the original Keepseagle settlement was agreed to in 2010.

The Court’s order is open to appeal through June 20, 2016.  If an appeal is filed, the deadline for submitting a letter of inquiry – June 24, 2016 – will still be observed.  However, whether we proceed through the rest of the process will depend on the court, which may bar us from making any awards prior to successful resolution of the appeal.  If there is an appeal, www.indianfarmclass.com/NAAFTF.aspx will be updated and all applicants who submitted an application by the June 24, 2016 deadline will be notified that there may be a delay before moving to the next stage of the process.