Recent Op-Eds

There’s No Place I’d Rather Be

By Sen. John Thune

October 25, 2019

There’s nothing better than autumn in South Dakota. I always enjoy traveling around the state in the fall. So far this October, I’ve gotten to visit with South Dakota students, present a Purple Heart medal to a Vietnam vet, talk to the new commander at Ellsworth Air Force Base, attend the groundbreaking for Dakota Wesleyan University’s new School of Business Innovation and Leadership, greet a returning Honor Flight, visit some outstanding South Dakota businesses, chat with Sioux Falls’ mayor, and a whole lot more.

And of course, I got to participate in Hobo Day – South Dakota State University’s (SDSU’s) annual homecoming. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big sports guy – in particular a South Dakota sports guy – so I keenly enjoy every visit to the home of the Jacks. And even as a graduate of the University of South Dakota, Hobo Day is a fall highlight. There’s a parade, a lot of good food, and a lot of excited sports fans. What’s not to love?

The best Hobo Days, of course, are when the Jacks win their game, and that’s exactly what they did this year, handily defeating Southern Illinois. And speaking of Jacks football, I know there was a lot of excitement on SDSU’s campus and throughout the Brookings community when ESPN’s College GameDay announced it would cover the annual Dakota Marker matchup, the show’s first-ever visit to South Dakota – a big deal for any college town!

In addition to Hobo Day and Jacks football, one of the things I look forward to the most each fall in South Dakota is the start of pheasant hunting season. I went out with several friends this year, and we had a great day. The weather was gorgeous – that blue, blue South Dakota sky – and the fall colors were finally showing themselves after a late start to the season.

Pheasant hunting’s economic importance to South Dakota is one of the many reasons I’ve worked to support and expand the Conservation Reserve Program. Taking underperforming land out of production is not only good for the environment and for farmers, it’s also key to maintaining wildlife habitat, including pheasant habitat.

I pushed for an increase in the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap in the 2018 farm bill, and the final bill raised the acreage cap to 27 million acres. I will continue to work to support and strengthen this program to help farmers, benefit the environment, and provide habitat for wildlife – especially the South Dakota pheasant.

With several beautiful fall weekends around the corner (before the white stuff arrives for good), I’m looking forward to spending as much time as possible in South Dakota. There’s no place in the world I’d rather be.