WASHINGTON, D.C. (KELO-AM) – Rep. Kristi Noem today helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill. As a member of the Conference Committee that negotiated the agreement, Rep. Noem served as South Dakota’s voice throughout the negotiations, earning livestock disaster, crop insurance, forestry and conservation provisions that are critically important to the state.
“Now is the time to bring the Farm Bill home,” said Rep. Noem. “This bill makes more reforms than we’ve seen in decades. It saves billions, conserves wildlife habitats, and perhaps most importantly, provides a viable safety net for those who grow our food while ensuring those who rely on food assistance have access to it. While Congress was writing this bill, South Dakota was hit with both droughts and blizzards. We now have the opportunity to offer relief and certainty to those ranchers who lost so much, to all producers and to the consumers who rely on a safe and affordable food supply. I urge the Senate and the President to act quickly so we can bring this bill home.”
Rep. Noem is the first House member from South Dakota to be appointed as a member of the Farm Bill conference in nearly 20 years. The legislation will now head to the Senate for final passage before arriving at the President’s desk for his signature. The bill protects and strengthens many of the programs Rep. Noem has been a vocal supporter of, including a strong crop insurance program, the Livestock Disaster Program, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
South Dakota Highlights:
- Saves More than $20 Billion. The Farm Bill will reduce spending by more than $20 billion. The savings were found through a series of reforms throughout the Farm Bill, including the elimination of direct payments and reforms to the nutrition program that help uphold the program’s integrity while saving around $8 billion.
- Strengthens Livestock Disaster Program. The Conference Committee based the Livestock Disaster Program off the House’s language, which was authored by Rep. Noem and offers a higher reimbursement rate than the Senate version did. As a result, the program would reimburse producers up to 75% of the fair market value. Additionally, the program will be retroactive for 2012 and 2013 and extend through the life of the Farm Bill. Finally, the legislation raises the cap to $125,000 for a single producer and $250,000 for a married couple.
- Gives Additional Tools to Combat Pine Beetle Crisis. As urged by Rep. Noem, the agreement helps get boots on the ground faster for pine beetle mitigation efforts. It does this by streamlining lengthy environmental red-tape on insect and disease infested areas of forests throughout the United States at the request of a state’s Governor. It also includes acategorical exclusion of 3,000 acres. In November 2013, Rep. Noem hosted U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in the Black Hills to show him the damage. While there, he stated that we need to start dealing with thousands of acres rather than hundreds. This Farm Bill allows for that.
- Reauthorizes the Sun Grant Initiative. The Farm Bill maintains the Sun Grant Initiative, which has created a network of land-grant universities, including South Dakota State University, that work together to further establish a biobased renewable energy economy.
- Establishes an Office of Tribal Relations in the USDA. The legislation permanently establishes an Office of Tribal Relations within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help improve communication between the USDA and Tribal nations. Rep. Noem originally authored the provision in the House version of the bill.
- Renew PILT Funds. The legislation renews funding for Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT), helping states fix roads, hire teachers, pay police officers and provide other vital services. This is especially important to rural communities throughout South Dakota.
- Includes Noem’s Protect Our Prairies Language for Certain States. The Farm Bill includes the Protect Our Prairies Act, which was written by Rep. Noem. The legislation encourages conservation of native sod and grassland by decreasing crop insurance support for the first four years after the sod/grassland is broken. This provision only applies in South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa.