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South Dakota senators talk about Farm Bill

Posted: Friday, May 17th, 2013

HURON — Markup of the 2013 Farm Bill by the Senate Agriculture Committee is just the beginning of the process, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said Wednesday.

“The current climate of budgetary and fiscal restraint requires that we subject all areas of federal spending to close examination,” he said. “No program can be exempt from reform, including the Farm Bill.

In the past two years, he said he has introduced legislation to reform several titles of the bill and save more than $50 billion, while providing a strong safety net for production agriculture, nutrition assistance to those in need and the necessary tools to protect forests, soil and natural resources.

“Unfortunately, the current Senate Farm Bill fails to meet this level of reform,” Thune said.

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said he is pleased the committee has moved the reauthorization process forward. The bill contains a number of important reforms to farm and rural support programs, including the elimination of the unnecessary direct payment program,” he said.

The bill contains many of the provisions of the Farm Program Integrity Act which Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced earlier this year to cap farm program payments and ensure that only real farmers are receiving payments.

Johnson said the bill also provides critical disaster assistance for livestock losses.

Passage of the bill will give producers certainty, reduce the deficit and create millions of jobs, he said.

Amendments cosponsored by Thune and included in the bill eliminate outdated fixed target prices for certain commodity crops, saving $276 million, and require that native sod and longstanding grassland acres converted to sod be tracked by the Agriculture Department.

In Wednesday’s markup, three amendments offered by Thune failed, one on an 8-12 vote and the others on voice votes.

They would have limited the adverse market price program to rice and peanuts, saving $897 million over 10 years; ensured a fair regional distribution of nutrition education and obesity grants within the food stamp program, saving $2 billion over 10 years without impacting benefits for those currently enrolled in the program; and encouraged able-bodied adults without dependents to work part-time or participate in work training programs in order to receive food stamp benefits beyond the current three-month period.

For the complete article see the 05-16-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-16-2013 paper.

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