October 5, 2022

South Dakota Congressional Delegation Stresses Importance of Nutrition-Production Linkage in Farm Bill – Agweek

MITCHELL, SD — The 2018 farm bill provides a solid foundation as an agricultural safety net for farmers and hungry Americans, but groups are looking for ways to improve in 2023 and beyond.

The South Dakota Agricultural Bureau hosted a forum on the 2023 Farm Bill at the Dakotafest Farm Show in Mitchell, South Dakota on August 17, 2022. The event was attended by the entire South Dakota Congressional delegation – Meaning. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson – all Republicans, as well as representatives of commodity and food distribution.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, moderated the well-attended forum and urged farmers and farmer groups to “stick together” to “modernize” the bill.

Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau and vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, noted that there are more than 150 new members of the House of Representatives and 50 new members of the U.S. Senate since the draft was written. 2018 Farm Bill, so industry needs to make sure they understand the importance of the bill to food and nutrition.

U.S. Senator John Thune, R.D., speaking at a South Dakota Farm Bureau-sponsored farm bill forum at the Dakotafest Farm Show in Mitchell, South Dakota on August 17, 2022 , said the five-year farm bill expires in September 2023 provides an opportunity to update benchmark prices underpinning safety net programs.

Mikkel Pates / Agweek

Thune, who is working on his fifth farm bill, said there have been a few Senate Agriculture Committee hearings and listening sessions across the state, but that activity will increase in anticipation of a new bill.

“We want a farm bill that’s producer-focused” and workable, Thune said. The top priority is a strong crop insurance program, which has been the cornerstone of an agricultural safety net since the 2008 Farm Bill, which was designed to move away from ad hoc assistance.

Thune wants to update the “benchmark prices” for the so-called Title I agricultural price support programs – agricultural risk coverage and price loss coverage programs. He noted that the ARC and PLC programs were not triggered during the pandemic when commodity prices fell to low levels. Updates will depend on the amount of money that can be allocated.

Additionally, Thune would like to make the conservation title in the bill more “feasible, more functional, more usable, especially on the livestock side, for fencing and water distribution.” He would like to increase the payment limits of the conservation reserve program, which he says “has not been increased since 1985”, and should be on par with the ARC and PLC programs, with limits up to 125 $000.

A man speaks into a microphone, wearing a black polo shirt, flanked by a Dakotafest farm show backdrop.
U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, R.D., speaking at a South Dakota Farm Bureau-sponsored Farm Bill Forum at the Dakotafest Farm Show in Mitchell, South Dakota on August 17, 2022, a said he was working on legislation to reform the United States. Natural Resources Conservation Service of the Department of Agriculture, and would seek to eliminate permanent federal land easements and change their penalties.

Mikkel Pates / Agweek

Rounds, who does not sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee, was applauded when he said he was working on legislation that would ‘reform the NRCS’ – the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service – to make it a “better neighbour”. Among other things, he wants to remove “permanent easements”.

Rounds wants to make easement compliance penalties “proactive only, not retroactive”, he wants to remove references in easements to “woody vegetation” and protect participants from “changing rationales for determining wetlands” .

On a related topic, Rounds warned his congressional colleagues not to make CRP too much of a “working land” program, with automatic or easy haymaking or grazing, because it exists largely because of political support from enthusiasts. from wildlife. This is important in South Dakota, which is a magnet for pheasant hunting tourism.

The CRP program is often leveraged during droughts and other weather disasters to keep cattle ranchers from going under, and that’s how it should stay, Rounds said.

Members of Congress have all urged farmers to support the continued link between nutrition programs and agricultural support programs, in part because it gives some urban lawmakers a reason to vote for it.

A man in a blue and orange plaid shirt speaks into a microphone, flanked by a Dakotafest farm show backdrop.
U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson, R.S.D., speaking at a South Dakota Farm Bureau-sponsored farm bill forum at the Dakotafest agricultural show in Mitchell, South Dakota on August 17, 2022, a said farmers were concerned about economic safety nets, but also excited about the role of the Farm Bill in bringing meat, milk and other products within reach of Americans in need.

Mikkel Pates / Agweek

Johnson said the 2018 farm bill has a budget projection of $1.3 trillion over 10 years, though policies are allowed for five years. He said one problem is that 80% of farm revenue over a four-year period came from federal funds, either through ad hoc COVID-19 or trade retaliatory measures.

Rounds noted that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Needy Families is expected to cost $159 billion this year and is projected to cost $149 billion in 2023. Johnson, however, noted that SNAP spending is expected to be more than political alliance for farmers.

“It’s something that American producers are excited to do – how to get beef and milk into these kids’ bellies,” Johnson said. He said he liked that South Dakota requires young people without dependents to work or attend a training program at least 20 hours a week to receive food stamps.

Scott Stahl, president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association, said the 2018 farm bill was a success, but said it needs to be “modernized” to ensure growers have fair profit margins , because inflation increases costs.

“Eighty percent of our costs are associated with energy costs, when you look at fertilizer, fuel and transportation,” he said.

Kevin Deinert, first vice president of the South Dakota Soybean Association, urged members of Congress to look for ways to support conservation programs that help farmers and support ways to use the product in biodiesel, including by improving infrastructure such as locks, dams and rail to get the products to market.

Austin Havlik, a Mitchell, South Dakota banker and member of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, asked the delegation to work on improving purchase coverage options for the Disaster Assistance Program. Uninsured Catastrophe, a program that fills when Grazing, Range, and Forage Insurance is unreliable due to distance from mesonet weather data.

Havlick asked about the feasibility of cost sharing to put fencing and water on the conservation reserve program to complement conservation practices and find ways to bring young people back to the farm and ranch. .

In policies not directly part of the Farm Bill, Rounds called for USDA policy changes that, since 2003, have allowed companies to put the “Product of USA” label on the beef and other products, if simply repackaged in the United States.

A US senator speaks into a microphone at a table on the right, flanked by two congressional colleagues and the president of a national farm organization.  ]
From right, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds, RS.D. comments on potential legislation, flanked by Sen. John Thune, RS.D., and Rep. Dusty Johnson, RS.D., in a panel on the farm bill moderated by Zippy Duvall, chairman of the American Farm Bureau, at the Dakotafest Farm Show in Mitchell, South Dakota on August 17, 2022.

Mikkel Pates / Agweek

Johnson noted progress for agriculture through a bill he passed that would increase transparency requirements for the “big four” packaging companies and year-round E15 (gasoline with 15% d ethanol) – an increase from the current blend of 10% regular gas. He said he was keen to ensure that Chinese interests do not increase their holdings in US agriculture or agricultural processing, noting that

All three were worried about the $20 billion in the new Inflation Reduction Act. All said they didn’t know how the USDA would spend the money, but Johnson said some colleagues wanted it to come with “conditions attached.”