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Five-Year Farm Bill Will Provide Certainty, Stability to South Dakota Ag Community

After months of negotiations, Congress recently passed a five-year farm bill with strong bipartisan support. This vital piece of legislation will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers across the country, and especially in South Dakota where our state’s economy depends on agriculture. With more than 31,500 farms across the state, South Dakota ranks in the top 10 for ag production, providing a $21 billion dollar impact on our economy annually.


With net farm income down 50 percent in the past five years and producers on the tip of the spear with the ongoing trade disputes, the farm bill will provide our ag community with much-needed stability as they plan for the future. A five-year farm bill is necessary to give South Dakota producers the certainty they need to help weather times of low commodity prices, such as the one we are experiencing now. Measures included in the farm bill can help them keep their operations viable.


During farm bill negotiations, I outlined my priorities to the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee to make certain the top concerns of South Dakota producers were heard. I was pleased most of these priorities were addressed as part of the final farm bill package, including a measure to increase the cap for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres from 24 million acres to 27 million acres, with 2 million acres reserved for grasslands. The farm bill also strengthens the federal crop insurance program, increases the total Farm Service Agency (FSA) Guaranteed and Direct Loan Program authorization to $12 billion and establishes an Animal Disease and Preparedness Program. This includes a vaccination bank to combat economic, food and national security concerns. Additionally, it allows for re-enrollment for producers utilizing commodity programs under Title I, specifically Price-Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC).


It also includes Sen. John Thune’s provision to update and improve accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor and better use collected data to determine emergency grazing procedures through FSA. This is an important provision for South Dakota producers in times of extreme drought like we experienced in much of the state last year.


Farmers and ranchers in South Dakota work hard every day to feed and fuel a growing population here in the U.S. and around the world. As in all businesses, some years are better than others. During those tough times, it’s important that producers have access to tools that can help them keep going.


I thank Senate and House Agriculture Committee leaders and members for their work getting this important bill passed the finish line. It is a critical step toward providing certainty and stability for South Dakota farmers and ranchers as we continue to seek ways to improve the ag economy as a whole.