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Public Statements

Pass A Responsible Farm Bill

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from South Dakota (Mrs. Noem) for 5 minutes.

Mrs. NOEM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about the importance of getting a farm bill done this year. Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, I know how volatile the agriculture industry certainly is. Our producers will invest in seed; they will fertilize the land; and they will put it in the ground in the spring, oftentimes in unfavorable weather, in the hope that that fall they will come back and be able to pick something up and have something to show for it in the fall. The crops that are grown provide food not just for South Dakota, but for our Nation and for our world.

South Dakotans understand that our weather can be extreme and it can be unpredictable. It can also vary a lot from year to year. We have certainly seen that situation this year. Look at what we have witnessed lately. We have gone from extreme droughts in the Midwest to now blizzards in April. For agriculture producers, these extremes are more than an inconvenience. Whether it is an extended drought that dries out crops or a blizzard that endangers a herd of cattle, weather disasters can mean the difference between a family operation that is able to make it through another year or a family operation that ends forever.

When faced with weather-related disasters, I know that it is essential for our farmers and ranchers to have immediate assistance to keep their operations running. We have a national security interest in being able to produce our own food in this country. The instance we depend on another country to feed our people is the instance that we completely let them control us and our future. A farm bill not only provides a safety net for us, it keeps us safe. We need to keep our farmers on the land in good times and in bad times.

Budgeting for these programs through the farm bill process is much more responsible than doing what has been done in the past, such as passing large, ad hoc disaster assistance packages, which is what Congress often ends up doing year after year if these programs are not in place and are not funded. Often these disaster programs could be spent at a deficit level rather than responsibly being budgeted for.

One of the situations we don't talk about very often is how the dynamics have changed in the farming industry. It is simply not possible for farmers and ranchers to continue to operate without having access to credit. The only way they have access to credit a lot of times is because of dependence on crop insurance and somewhat of a farm safety net.

Next week, the House Agriculture Committee plans to mark up the farm bill. We need this House to act. We need them to get a farm bill done, one that will support both rural and urban America. We cannot accept another extension this year. We must pass a long-term bill to give certainty to our producers and to guarantee our Nation's food supply.

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