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It’s Farm Bill Season

By Sen. John Thune

April 1, 2022

It’s hard to believe, but it’s now been more than three years since the 2018 farm bill became law. As the old saying goes, though, there’s no rest for the weary, something South Dakota agriculture producers know better than anyone. We’re still more than a year away from needing to pass the next farm bill, but it’s time to start thinking about it now.  

During my time in Congress, as a member of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, I’ve worked on four farm bills, and I’m particularly proud of the nearly 20 measures I was able to get included in the 2018 farm bill. Among other things, I authored provisions to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, improve the accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor, and include soil health as a research priority at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I also secured approval for a new, short-term alternative to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) – the Soil Health and Income Protection Program – to provide an option for farmers who don’t want to take their land out of production for the 10 to 15 years required under CRP. 

I would never have been able to get all this done without the input of South Dakota farmers and ranchers. These provisions were a direct result of extensive conversations with South Dakota producers, who provided insight into the challenges they were facing and what improvements could make things easier in this demanding way of life.

As I look to the 2023 bill, I will once again be relying on South Dakota farmers and ranchers to lend their firsthand knowledge to this effort. I recently held the first of a series of roundtables I’m planning to hold in South Dakota to hear directly from producers. The roundtable focused on the commodity and crop insurance titles of the next farm bill, and I was grateful to be able to hear from representatives of South Dakota Farm Bureau and South Dakota corn, soybean, and wheat producers, as well as crop insurance industry representatives.

I will be holding additional roundtables to cover other farm bill priorities, including livestock, conservation, and forestry issues. And, of course, I will also continue to rely on the many informal conversations I have with South Dakota producers as I travel around the state. There’s nothing worse than having “experts” in Washington come in and dictate to the real experts – the farmers and ranchers who spend every day producing the food that feeds our nation.

The life of a farmer or rancher is a challenging one. The work often starts long before the sun rises, and concludes long after the sun has set. And the labor can be backbreaking. Not to mention the deep uncertainty that goes along with this existence. The food we eat every day depends upon their work, and our country would not long survive without them. I am very proud to have the honor of representing South Dakota farmers and ranchers in the Senate. And I will continue to work every day to ensure that their needs are addressed.

I look forward to ensuring that the 2023 farm bill reflects the priorities of South Dakota farmers and ranchers, and farmers and ranchers around our great country.