NAPI official testifies at Senate hearing on agribusiness opportunities in Indian Country

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
202-682-7390

For Immediate Release

NAPI official testifies at Senate hearing on agribusiness opportunities in Indian Country

WASHINGTON—Navajo Agriculture Products Industry (NAPI) official Lionel Haskie testified today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs oversight hearing on agribusiness opportunities in Indian Country.

“NAPI is proud to be a leader in American agribusiness. NAPI farms more than 72,000 acres of crops annually, with the potential to develop an additional 35,000 acres," Haskie said. 

NAPI employ between 200 and 500 people, depending upon the season. More than 90 percent of NAPI's workforce is Navajo making it one of the largest, stable employers in the Navajo Nation.

"Utmost in our vision is to continue to hire and train more of our people in agribusiness for future growth. NAPI has the talent, vision, and capacity to continue our growth in new and exciting opportunities domestically and internationally," Haskie said.

Congress is expected to take up a massive farm bill in the coming months and tribal leaders including Haskie underscored the need to include tribal input in the process.

In addition to emphasizing employment and international development, Haskie urged Congress to appropriate the full amount to complete the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project (NIIP) that was created and enacted by Congress in 1962. “Unfortunately, after 50 years, this project has yet to be completed,” Haskie said.

Regarding the farm bill reauthorization, Haskie called on Congress to reauthorize the following programs: Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage crop insurance programs, USDA Conservation Programs including EQIP, the Conservation Stewardship Program, and the WaterSmart Program.

In 2017, NAPI ventured into new markets to help mitigate commodity price volatility. Notably, NAPI began to produce organic crops including corn, table stock potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupe, and melons. Haskie said NAPI plans to continue this build out with new organic vegetable crops planned for 2018 as the company gains experience in the expanding organic product industry.

“We would like to work with this Committee, the Agriculture Committees, and the USDA to address this unique situation for the development of new crops,” Haskie said.

Another barrier is the wait time for USDA product inspections required to obtain an organic certification. NAPI would like to see increased funding for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture through the Organic Certification Program so that there is an increased number of accredited certified agents in the office.

NAPI collaborates with other Navajo Nation farming communities by providing technical assistance and marketing goods locally. In addition, NAPI partners with local schools to promote careers in agriculture.

“We would like to see the USDA’s Farmers' Market and Local Food Promotion Program, Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and Community Food Projects reauthorized in the 2018 farm bill,” Haskie added.

In conclusion, Haskie said NAPI is proud to serve local, national and international customers with high-quality products produced on the Navajo Nation. NAPI is proud to be an employer of the Navajo Nation. “We look forward to continued growth and to develop new markets,” Haskie said.

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