Recent Press Releases

Thune: Farmers and Ranchers Can’t Wait Any Longer for an Updated Farm Bill

“Simply put, we need to put more farm in the farm bill.”

February 28, 2024

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of passing of a full and updated farm bill that addresses the needs of South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers. Thune noted that the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have stalled the farm bill’s passage by prioritizing climate and nutrition funding ahead of farmers and ranchers.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, America needs farmers and ranchers.

“We need the men and women – and often entire families – who are willing to do the hard work to feed our country and the world.

“In places like my home state of South Dakota, farming and ranching are just part of our way of life.

“But this important work involves a great deal of risk.

“Few jobs, for example, are as subject to the whims of the weather and fluctuations of the market.

“So for almost 100 years Congress has regularly passed a farm bill to back agriculture producers with programs and policies that mitigate risk and help them to keep going through tough times.

“And with the 2018 farm bill expiring last year, Congress needs to take up this important task once again.

“While I’m glad Congress passed an extension of critical farm bill programs through the 2024 growing season, a temporary extension is no substitute for a full, updated bill.

“Mr. President, I’ve been able to help craft four farm bills during my time in Congress, and for me the process always begins and ends with farmers and ranchers.

“In addition to my regular discussions with farmers and ranchers as I travel around our state, I’ve held a number of roundtable discussions across South Dakota focused on the next farm bill to receive direct input from our state’s agriculture producers.

“And most of my priorities for the farm bill come directly from the conversations I’ve had.

“Mr. President, one thing I consistently hear from farmers and ranchers is the importance of the farm safety net.

“Crop insurance, commodity, and livestock programs play a critical role in helping producers manage risk in their operations.

“Crop insurance is the cornerstone of this safety net, and we need to strengthen it wherever possible in the next farm bill.

“While crop insurance has historically supported row crop production, I’m pleased with the progress made in recent years to improve and expand insurance options for livestock producers.

“But commodity programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage need to be improved so they sufficiently mitigate producers’ losses.

“And livestock programs like the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program need to be modified to improve the assistance they provide.

“So one of my top priorities for the next farm bill is improving commodity and livestock programs so they provide the support farmers and ranchers need during tough times.

“Mr. President, as I said, while I’m glad we have extended key provisions of the 2018 farm bill through this growing season, we are overdue for a full, updated bill.

“And Republicans on the Agriculture Committee are ready to get to drafting a bill.

“I’m disappointed, however, that some of my Democrat colleagues don’t seem to share our sense of urgency.

“The Biden administration and congressional Democrats have put funding their climate and nutrition priorities ahead of helping farmers and ranchers, which has stalled what has traditionally been a bipartisan farm bill process.

“With an expected $1.5 trillion price tag for the next farm bill – thanks in part to the Biden USDA’s SNAP Thrifty Food Plan update, which is expected to cost more than a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next 10 years – there needs to be some give and take when it comes to meaningfully funding the farm safety net and other components of the farm bill.

“Mr. President, since the last farm bill passed in 2018, farmers and ranchers have faced a number of challenges.

“Inflation has driven up farm production expenses by $100 billion since the last farm bill.

“USDA is forecasting another decrease in net farm income this year following last year’s drop.

“And farm input costs are projected to stay near record highs this year.

“The Biden administration’s failure to promote trade and new market access opportunities will continue to negatively impact farmers and ranchers.

“This year the United States is on track to post a record-high agriculture trade deficit.

“And recent disruptions to shipping in the Middle East could have impacts on global markets that negatively affect American farms and ranches.

“Our focus needs to be on helping farmers deal with these challenges.

“Simply put, we need to put more farm in the farm bill.

“And we need to get moving now.

“America’s farmers and ranchers can’t afford more unnecessary delays or partisan exercises.

“It’s time to get the farm bill done, and done right.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor."