It’s been almost four years since the last fam bill became law – hard to believe, I know. Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve had the opportunity to work on four farm bills, and as I look to the next one, I hope to once again rely on South Dakota farmers and ranchers to lend their firsthand knowledge to this effort. Over the past several months, I have held multiple roundtables across the state where I have been able to hear directly from farmers and ranchers. The ideas and information I have received through these discussions are invaluable as we begin looking ahead to crafting the 2023 farm bill.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of our economy in South Dakota, and the real experts are right here, literally in the fields, doing the hard work. As a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, advocating for farmers and ranchers remains one of my top priorities, and I am actively taking the feedback I receive and turning it into proposals that I hope to get included in the 2023 farm bill.
One issue that continuously gets brought up during my farm bill roundtables is the need to reform our country’s beef labeling system. I share folks’ concerns about the current labeling system for beef: It’s unfair to our cattle producers, and it’s misleading for consumers. South Dakota cattle producers create some of the highest quality beef in the world, and when you see a ‘product of the U.S.A.’ label on the grocery store shelf, it should mean just that. I introduced bipartisan legislation that would require clear and accurate labeling for beef. I am working to garner even more support in the Senate to reinstate mandatory county of origin labeling as I work to advance this important legislation.
I also have received valuable feedback about the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). It’s clear that we need to continue making improvements to ensure that CRP remains an effective option for producers and landowners. In March, I introduced the CRP Improvement Act to make CRP a more attractive working-lands option by providing cost-share payments for all CRP practices for the establishment of grazing infrastructure, including fencing and water distribution. My bill would also increase the annual payment limit for CRP, which has not changed since 1985, to help account for inflation and the increase in land values. I believe that these common-sense changes would greatly improve the effectiveness of CRP, and based off the conversations I’ve had with folks across the state, they agree.
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. Our nation depends on South Dakota farmers and ranchers, and I am profoundly grateful for all of the determined men and women who have chosen this way of life and are committed to helping pass it on to future generations.
I am honored to represent South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers in the Senate, and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that they have the resources they need to continue to feed and fuel our nation and the world. I look forward to ensuring that the 2023 farm bill reflects the priorities of agricultural producers in South Dakota and around our great country.