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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the ongoing inflation crisis that the American people continue to face and noted the tone-deaf messaging coming from the White House and congressional Democrats. Thune also highlighted the toll inflation is taking on the agriculture industry in South Dakota, and he noted that under the Biden administration, farm production expenses are projected to reach record highs.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, yesterday afternoon, Democrats and the president gathered at the White House to celebrate their so-called Inflation Reduction Act … a bill that will do exactly nothing to reduce inflation.
“And you don’t have to take my word for that.
“The nonpartisan Penn Wharton Budget Model said this about the bill’s impact on inflation: ‘The impact on inflation is statistically indistinguishable from zero.’
“‘Statistically indistinguishable from zero.’
“Or you could take the word of the Democrat chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who admitted on the Senate floor that the so-called Inflation Reduction Act would not reduce inflation.
“Mr. President, to describe yesterday’s celebration at the White House as tone-deaf is putting it mildly.
“Democrats had a big party to celebrate a bill that may fulfill some of their big-government fantasies but will do nothing to fix the inflation crisis facing our country.
“Meanwhile, Americans were dealing with the release of August’s inflation numbers – which were even higher than expected and made it very clear that soaring prices will continue for the foreseeable future.
“One of President Obama’s top economic advisers noted yesterday, and I quote, ‘Today’s CPI report confirms that the US has a serious inflation problem. Core inflation is higher this month than for the quarter, higher this quarter than last quarter, higher this half of the year than the previous one, and higher last year than the previous one.’
“Yet Democrats and the president thought yesterday was a good day to celebrate fulfilling some of their big-government fantasies.
“I guess Americans struggling to afford their soaring grocery bills can be comforted by the fact that thanks to Democrats’ legislation, their tax dollars will now be going to fund electric vehicle tax credits for wealthy Americans – not to mention road equity and identifying gaps in tree canopy coverage.
“Mr. President, the pain of inflation is permeating every aspect of our economy.
“During the month of August, I spent a lot of time traveling around South Dakota, and, naturally, I spent a lot of time talking to farmers and ranchers.
“And one thing I heard over and over is the toll inflation is taking on agriculture.
“In addition to the normal challenges every American is facing from inflation – like high utility bills and high grocery prices – farmers and ranchers are facing massive increases in the price of essential inputs like fertilizer and fuel.
“Under the Biden administration, farm production expenses will reach a record high this year.
“Fertilizer prices are on track to increase by 84 percent.
“That is a staggering increase.
“Fuel prices are on track to increase 65 percent.
“And there’s no end in sight.
“And farmers are facing a huge increase in interest costs thanks to a combination of higher interest rates and record-high farm debt.
“Gross farm income is actually supposed to reach a record level this year, but those gains are expected to be entirely wiped out by inflation – and then some.
“Thanks to inflation, net farm income is expected to decrease.
“Meanwhile, Democrats were at the White House celebrating a bill that will not only do nothing to address our inflation crisis but will drive up energy bills for American farmers and American families.
“Mr. President, agriculture is the lifeblood of my state of South Dakota.
“And addressing the needs of farmers and ranchers is always one of my top priorities here in the Senate.
“And while it’s unfortunately going to be difficult to stop Democrats from prolonging our inflation crisis as long as they’re in charge in Washington, in the meantime I am doing everything I can to make life easier for farmers and ranchers.
“One of my top priorities right now is preparing for the 2023 farm bill, to make it as effective as possible in addressing the challenges facing farmers and ranchers.
“I’ve been holding roundtables in South Dakota to hear directly from producers about their priorities for the farm bill.
“So far, I’ve held roundtables covering row crops, conservation, and livestock.
“I also participated in a farm bill panel at Dakotafest and an Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce farm bill discussion at the Brown County Fair.
“And I look forward to continuing to receive input from producers as the time to draft the farm bill approaches.
“I’ve also begun introducing legislation – based on my conversations with farmers and ranchers – that I will work to get included in the farm bill.
“In March I introduced the Conservation Reserve Program Improvement Act, which would make CRP grazing a more attractive option for farmers and ranchers by providing cost-share payments for all CRP practices for the establishment of grazing infrastructure, including fencing and water distribution.
“It 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 value.
“In May I joined Senator Klobuchar to introduce the Agriculture Innovation Act.
“Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture collects reams of data on conservation practices.
“The problem is that a lot of this data is often not analyzed and presented in a way that would be useful for farmers and ranchers.
“The legislation Senator Klobuchar and I introduced would provide for better processing and development of the data USDA collects, so that farmers and ranchers can evaluate the impact of conservation and other production practices on things like soil health, crop yields, and profitability.
“Our bill would make it easier for farmers and ranchers to decide what conservation practices to adopt by, among other things, helping producers identify the ways adopting conservation practices can improve their bottom line.
“In the next couple of weeks I will be introducing another piece of legislation for the 2023 farm bill to improve the effectiveness of livestock disaster assistance for producers.
“Too often, producers find that accessing disaster relief programs at the Department of Agriculture is an arduous and lengthy process.
“I’m working on legislation that would make it easier for farmers and ranchers to access the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and the Emergency Conservation Program so that producers can receive timely assistance in the wake of natural disasters like drought and flooding.
“The U.S. Drought Monitor plays a critical role in triggering USDA disaster assistance, and I’m working to build on my previous efforts to improve weather monitoring and the accuracy of the Drought Monitor.
“Mr. President, this isn’t a farm bill issue per se, but I’m also introducing legislation today to prevent Democrats from using funding in the recently passed – and misnamed – Inflation Reduction Act to monitor livestock methane emissions.
“It’s very clear that elements of the radical environmental left would like to see U.S. livestock producers out of business entirely.
“My legislation is designed to forestall future attempts to curtail beef production by preventing the Biden Environmental Protection Agency from using funds in Democrats’ bill to monitor livestock emissions.
“Mr. President, agriculture is a challenging way of life.
“In addition to backbreaking work in all weathers, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have to contend with the uncontrollable whims of the weather, which can wipe out a herd or a crop in a day.
“And as if the usual challenges of the job weren’t enough, over the course of the Biden administration our nation’s farmers and ranchers have had to deal with soaring inflation.
“I am incredibly grateful for all the South Dakota farmers and ranchers – and all of our nation’s farmers and ranchers – who continue to persevere during these difficult circumstances.
“And I will continue to do everything I can in Washington to make your jobs easier and support you as you do the essential work of feeding our nation – and the world.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”