Native American Natural Foods President to testify before U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing May 1

April 30, 2014

Native American Natural Foods President to testify before U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing May 1
KYLE, S.D., April 30, 2014 - Mark Tilsen, president of Native American Natural Foods of Kyle, S.D., has been invited to testify May 1 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation.

The theme of the hearing is "The Importance of Regional Strategies in Rural Economic Development." The hearing will be at 10 a.m. in room 328A of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Tilsen received the invitation to testify from Heidi Heitkamp, chairwoman of the Subcommittee. This is the second time in three years that Tilsen has been invited to Washington to testify before a Senate committee. In 2011, he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking.

"We always welcome the opportunity to share why we created a national brand in the middle of a food desert, and from one of the most geographically and economically isolated places in America," Tilsen said. "But there is much more to do. The challenge we have is that there are not enough Native American commercial buffalo producers. We have only been able to buy about 20% of our meat from Native American producers, and we need to recruit more young Native people into raising buffalo.

"Many of the local producers do not have the required birth to plate animal identification program that provides the necessary transparency to be able to sell
their products into the added value natural food channel which is the fastest growing part of the food retail food market," he said. "This means that there is over $600,000 annually of economic impact from just Native American Natural Foods that could and should be going into the reservation economies."

Tilsen and business partner Karlene Hunter are co-owners and co-founders of the company, which is based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The company manufactures the Tanka brand of buffalo and cranberry snacks, which are sold nationally in more than 6,000 retail locations.

Native American Natural Foods provides natural, healthy products by adding value to traditional Native food products, using modern scientific methods, the least amount of processing, and the lowest-stress animal handling methods possible.

To read Mr. Tilsen's entire testimony: Written Statement

To listen to the hearing, which starts at 10 a.m. EST: Hearing


For more information, photos or a full press kit, please call Linda Crider at 214-789-8642 or e-mail Linda at

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