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Oneida Nation: Keep the Outreach Program in the Farm Bill

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PHOTO
July 23, 2012

ONEIDA, Wis. - As Congress deliberates the Farm Bill this summer, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is hoping funding for the 2501 Program will continue. The program awards funds to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Jeff Metoxen runs the Integrated Food Systems project, which involves poultry and organic vegetable production, for the Oneida Nation. When they first applied for funds, a few years ago, they were running their operation out of a tent, he says.

"We were looking at constructing a processing unit - a facility, a building - to help us in the bird processing (we work with poultry and we butcher on-site), as well as a station that could be utilized in our organic-vegetable production."

The 2501 Program funding allowed the Oneida Nation to build a facility that gets year-round daily use.

Metoxen says the facility has helped ensure food stability and a healthier lifestyle for the tribe. It has been a great boon to younger members, he adds.

"They're very interested in agriculture and are always looking for better ways, like more natural selection or sustainability. They're interested in going in the direction of doing their own food."

The facility, on Riverdale Drive in Oneida, is completely open to the public.

With so many farmers retiring, Metoxen explains, the program aims to help beginning farmers, whether or not they are tribal members, get into the marketplace. The 2501 Program funds were critical to the tribe's economic development, he says.

"We were able to establish a walk-in cooler, and this gave us a much more controlled environment. Because nothing was ever done on the same date, when we were not using it for poultry processing, we'd be using it for washing and storing the vegetables."

The House of Representatives could take action on the Farm Bill this summer.

More information is available at https://oneida-nsn.gov/.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI