Work session set on drought insurance conflict
The Navajo Nation’s Resources and Development Committee last week set a work session to hear from both sides of the dispute between the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture and individual ranchers over federal drought insurance payments.
The meeting was tentatively set for Monday, Aug. 12, at 10 a.m. at the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority building in Shiprock, although the ag department’s project and program specialist, Ferdinand Notah, said Monday it might have to be reset because department officials have other commitments that day.
About 30 Northern Agency ranchers had packed the regular RDC meeting last Wednesday demanding the committee act to resolve the dispute, which is holding up federal funding they said they have been relying on for 50 years to compensate them for losses of forage and livestock due to drought.
Since the issue was in the form of a report from the ranchers, the department was not given time to respond, but after the meeting Agriculture Department Manager Leo Watchman said the ranchers would be better off allowing the tribe to collect and distribute the payments.
The problem stems from the fact that both the tribe as a whole and individual ranchers filed for drought relief on the same acreage under two different federal programs, Notah explained in an interview Monday.