Senator John ThuneThe 2007 Farm Bill is important to every South Dakotan. How important? The 2007 Farm Bill has the potential to propel South Dakota into a more profitable era of food, fiber, energy production, and outdoor recreation. This is why I take my seat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry so seriously. South Dakota needs a sound Farm Bill.
My vision for the upcoming Farm Bill is that when completed, it will breathe new life into Rural America, provide an economic engine that drives small and large businesses, and include a support mechanism that keeps farmers and ranchers on their land. The 2007 Farm Bill must also include a toolbox of conservation incentives and practices that enable sound sustainable land stewardship and unleash outdoor recreation possibilities. Last but certainly not least, the 2007 Farm Bill must lay the groundwork for "growing energy" in order to diminish our dangerous and growing dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
The staff on my Farm Bill team recently held several meetings in South Dakota. Based on their feedback and my travels across South Dakota, I'm reminded once again of South Dakota's diversity and unique challenges. Timber production and tourism in Western South Dakota gives way to sheep and cattle ranching, which merge into wheat and oilseeds production. Corn, soybeans, and ethanol production are prominent in Eastern South Dakota's landscape. Interspersed throughout, are pork, dairy, honey, and poultry operations, as well as many agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises - each and every one impacted by the Farm Bill.
On the energy front, South Dakota has become a national leader when it comes to alternative energy - as evidenced by its 1 billion-gallon corn ethanol production potential for 2008. South Dakota is also known as the "Pheasant Capital" of the world-a title that is a direct result of the more than one million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.
Ethanol and pheasant production in South Dakota will be just one of the "balancing acts" the 2007 Farm Bill will be expected to perform.
Balance and sustainability are critical components to a farm policy that's effective and positive for South Dakota. It is my belief that the policies we establish under the umbrella of the 2007 Farm Bill enhance South Dakota's rural landscape - and not control its producers or dictate what they produce.
Along with balance comes sustainability. Sound farm policy ensures that farming and ranching practices harvest the land rather than mine it - leaving fertile soils and productive lands for future generations of South Dakotans.
The 2007 Farm Bill is critical to the future of every South Dakotan. The best policies of past Farm Bills were not written in Washington, D.C. Instead they originated on the farms, ranches, and kitchen tables across Rural America. I need your assistance as we begin writing the 2007 Farm Bill. With your help and input, we will ensure the 2007 Farm Bill works for South Dakota.
If you would like to discuss the 2007 Farm Bill with staff on my Farm Bill team, please feel free to call 1-866-850-3855.