Ask a farmer in Clark what his biggest fear is and he'll say uncertainty. Ask a rancher in Newell what he fears and he'll also say uncertainty. A lack of cooperation and political will from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle has resulted in apprehension for many South Dakotans.
The time has come to provide needed certainty to many in the form of a five-year Farm Bill.
In the final week of votes in the U.S. House before the August District Work period, we approved a $383 million disaster relief bill to help farmers and ranchers through this drought. Although this helps address the immediate need of many in the agriculture industry, a five-year long Farm Bill continues to be my top priority. I voted against adjournment, against the urging of my party's leadership, because I believe it's wrong to leave without a Farm Bill in place. With the current Farm Bill set to expire on September 30, the time to act is now.
This week, I sent a letter to President Obama requesting his cooperation in building a strong bipartisan coalition for the Farm Bill. Unlike most pieces of major legislation, Farm Bills are known to be bipartisan. Right now, there are only about 40 Democratic votes in support of the Farm Bill. In order to pass off the House floor, the Farm Bill needs more votes from members of both political parties. I continue to put pressure on members of my own party and I respectfully ask the President to do the same.
While I was at the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen this week, President Obama was in Iowa and emphasized the importance of passing a Farm Bill that provides reforms to agricultural programs and gives farmers and ranchers much-needed certainty. I agree with the President and continue to lead a bipartisan effort in the House to get this done.
Although efforts like the release of additional Conservational Reserve Program (CRP) acres for haying and grazing and the reauthorization of livestock disaster programs in the House-passed drought relief package are beneficial to our farmers and ranchers, it's not enough. The farmer in Clark and the rancher in Newell deserve better.
I will continue to work throughout the August District Work period to talk to members of Congress and ask for their support on the Farm Bill and will also spend time visiting with folks in South Dakota about how the Farm Bill impacts their household decisions, like determining how much crop to plant next year. As always, I encourage you to contact my office with your thoughts and concerns on the Farm Bill, or on any other issue, and to visit my website (http://noem.house.gov) for more information.