Winnebago Tribe Seeks to Reclaim Farming


The Winnebago Tribe's award-winning economic development corporation Ho-Chunk Inc. has watched as crop prices and farm revenues have soared in recent years. Now the tribe is looking to invest in its remaining 20,000 farmable acres, reported the Omaha World-Herald.

The Winnebagos previously struggled to raise farming capital and leased parts of its reservation in northeast Nebraska to outside operations to grow corn and soybeans.

"We're trying to take control of our own destiny," said Lance Morgan, Ho-Chunk's president, CEO and co-founder.

On April 5, Morgan was invited to participate in a White House Rural Council roundtable discussion about ways to foster American Indian agriculture, according to a Ho-Chunk press release. Topics centered around interagency coordination and revising existing policies to allow tribes more flexibility in obtaining government loans, Morgan said. The Native American Food and Agriculture Roundtable Discussion was also expected to cover leasing, technical assistance, strategic business planning and access to capital.

"What was amazing was how much resources are actually out there, but there was no coordinated effort to get this information to the tribes that want to get engaged," Morgan told the World-Herald.

The Rural Council, chaired by Tom Vilsack, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides a forum to discuss policy initiatives and job creation in rural America. It was established by President Barack Obama in June.