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Senator Thune's Weekly Column: The Promise & Challenge of a New Year

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As we ring in the New Year, we reflect on the hope, promise, and challenges that 2013 will hold. Many individuals stop to consider the personal improvements and changes they can make to their lives to ensure that 2013 holds even more opportunity than 2012. As we begin the New Year, Congress must try even harder to solve short-term problems and achieve long-term goals that will keep America secure and financially stable.

The drought-stricken landscape and the loss of crops, hay, and pastures in 2012 presented numerous challenges for many South Dakota farmers and ranchers. Following the excessive spring moisture and record floods of 2011, no one would have predicted that 2012 would bring extreme heat, a crippling moisture shortage, and the worst drought in decades. Because the weather is so unpredictable, Congress must pursue fiscally responsible agriculture policies that ensure farmers and ranchers can continue to produce a reliable, safe, and inexpensive food supply with the appropriate level of regulatory oversight and at the least cost to taxpayers. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I will continue to work with producers and stakeholders across the state to secure South Dakota's and our nation's agriculture industry and food supply for 2013 and future years.

High unemployment, a soaring federal debt, and a decline in global competitiveness are taking a toll on American businesses, large and small. This year the average price of gasoline hit a record high, giving new meaning to the term "pain at the pump." Overreaching government bureaucracies and an overabundance of unnecessary federal regulations have also severely restricted many of our entrepreneurs and job creators from making investments, adding new workers, and ultimately jumpstarting the lagging economy. This economic firestorm has taken its toll on South Dakotans and Americans of all stripes. To start this new year out on the right foot, Congress must get to work stimulating the economy with pro-growth legislation and diligently work to cut federal spending, bureaucratic red tape, and burdensome government regulations. Achieving this would ensure we move our country back on the right track.

The beginning of a new year is always a good time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. I look forward to new opportunities to serve South Dakota in the coming year as we embark on a new Congress. Kimberley and I wish all South Dakotans a happy, safe, and healthy new year.


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