Maggie Goode first Native American appointed to federal board
By Lailani Upham
Maggie Goode and grandson Wyatt on four-wheeler at the McDonald ranch in Niarada. (courtesy photo)
NIARADA — Maggie Goode, CSKT member and third generation cattle
producer, was appointed last April by United States Department of
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the Federal Crop Insurance
Corporation board of directors.
Goode is the first Native American to be appointed to serve on the board and the first from the state of Montana.
The Risk Management Agency manages the FCIC and falls under the
Department of Agriculture. RMA's goal is to strengthen the economic
stability of agriculture producers in the U.S.
According to recent article in Indian Country Today attributed
the RMA website as reporting 256 million acres of insured crops with a
value at approximately $78 billion. It stated that there were 1.14
million policies in 2010 with a premium volume of $7.5 billion. Sara
Buettner-Connelly, assistant to RMA Administrator William J. Murphy
stated that a little more than $4.5 billion in premium subsidies were
provided to producers in 2010. "This helps the producers manage their
business risks. They have a lot of money on the line and you never know
what natural events are going to happen."
The FCIC consists of a ten-member board, with each being
nominated to and then selected and appointed for a four-year term by
the Department of Agriculture Secretary. Goode said, she is still
unaware of who may have nominated her for the position.
Goode said, she is honored for the appointment and is pleased
that a tribal member will be involved in the decision making process.
"Tribes need involvement at all levels; county, state and federal," she
to Goode, the house on the left was the second house built on the
McDonald ranch in 1885; the barn on the left was built in 1890.
Goode, a farm industry appointee from Niarada runs a cow/calf
operation with her son, grandsons and brother. "My son Todd manages the
ranch with the help of my brother Nick Lefthand, who has contributed to
the success of the ranch for most of his 82 years. My grandsons Boston
and Wyatt show promise of continuing the family legacy, that has been
the backbone of the McDonald family for longer than the last century."
Goode has a long historical tie and service to the Tribes.
According to Goode, her grandfather Angus McDonald was statesman and
traveled to Washington D.C. on government business, representing the
Tribes back in the early 1900's. "My grandfather's foresight in filing
water rights in 1898 both with state and the federal government still
benefit the ranch today. The ranch could not operate without the water,
it is the reason he came to the Niarada area," she explained. He died
in 1924 and her grandmother, Anne McDonald took over running the ranch
until 1955. Her parents came to manage the ranch after that, she said.
Goode said despite many attempts by men to run her grandmother over
while continuing the fight for water rights, she stood strong. "She was
a very, strong and independent woman, who worked long and hard hours
irrigating the fields and feeding her family and hired help. I admire
her very much."
Her grandfather built the house Goode lives in today in 1900.
In 2001, Goode received the USDA Farm Service Producer of the
Year award, and in 2005 she received the USDA Farm Services Volunteer
of the Year award. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Eagle
Bank, one of the few tribally-owned banks in the country. She is a
former FSA County Committee member from Sanders County and serves on
the CSKT Agriculture Advisory Committee. Goode is also a former Tribal
Council Representative from the Hot Springs district and is a past
director for the Montana Cattlemen's Association. She is also a
lifelong member, volunteer, and supporter of 4-H.
Goode is currently employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer for the Tribes.
According to the agency, the Board delegates to the manager of
the FCIC certain authorities and powers. The Board approves any new
policy, plan of insurance or major modification to an existing plan or
other materials under procedures that are established by the board.
During her service on the board Goode said her goals are to make
decisions that will help producers, large and small, stay on the family
farms or ranches. "The board has an impact on production agriculture
with every decision we make. It is important to me that there is a
future for the next generations like my grandsons, and the 135 Ag
producers on the reservation," she added.
During her board service she will be required to travel to
Washington D.C. four times a year. According to Goode, the appointment
will also take a week out of the year for travel to Kansas City for
financial planning and budget meeting.
Buettner-Connelly, said Goode's appointment strengthens the
Obama administrations commitment to diversity and Vilsacks's dedication
to bringing an American Indian voice to the department.