Recent Press Releases

Thune Provisions Remain in Final Farm Bill

Senate Prevails - Keeps Critical Permanent Disaster Program in Farm Bill

April 26, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD —  Today Senator John Thune was cautiously optimistic that the final Farm Bill framework announced late Friday means an elusive Farm Bill agreement has tentatively been reached.

"Fighting for agriculture is never easy in Washington, even in a Farm Bill," said Thune. "Although we had to pull out all the stops in making our case for agricultural interests in this Farm Bill, those of us representing rural states fought hard to keep the `farm' provisions within the Farm Bill strong. Without making necessary compromises we could have lost everything we have worked for over the past two years - and have to start all over again. This framework leads me to believe we will end up with a farm bill with many of the provisions I fought for which will be much better than a one or two year extension of the 2002 Farm Bill."

Permanent Disaster Program:

Among other framework components that Thune authored and fought for as a Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee for South Dakota is the permanent disaster program. The framework announcement includes $3.8 billion for a permanent disaster program in the 2008 Farm Bill, and includes coverage for both crop and livestock losses.

"One of the hardest fought battles in the Farm Bill process was carrying the permanent disaster program we passed in the Senate to the finish line," said Thune. "The biggest obstacle to overcome was the fact that only the Senate Farm Bill included permanent disaster, and it was one of the first Farm Bill components the House was willing to bargain away in pre-conference negotiations with the Administration. Thanks to a unified Senate in the conference committee we now will have for the first time in years a comprehensive permanent disaster program that will provide a safety net and fill in the gaps where crop insurance and other programs stop short."

Thune's Biofuels Innovation Program:

Thune's Biofuels Innovation Program, which would provide incentives to potential cellulosic feedstock producers who grow crops such as switchgrass or furnish crop residues such as corncobs for producing cellulosic ethanol was included in both the House and Senate Farm Bills and will be in the final Farm Bill, although specific details are not yet public.

Thune's Beneficial Interest Amendment:

A successful Thune Amendment which passed in the Senate Farm Bill markup and included in the final Farm Bill which preserves beneficial interest in grain for farmers who exercise a safety net provision, called a loan deficiency payment, will be included in the final Farm Bill, with modifications. The Thune beneficial interest Amendment was supported by nearly every major farm and commodity organization in the United States, and is a critical tool for South Dakota farmers when commodity prices drop.

Other provisions included in the framework that Thune fought for include:
  • $400 million in tax credits for development of cellulosic ethanol

  • An additional $4 billion for conservation programs, including $1.1 billion for the
    Conservation Security Program

Thune noted that the framework also includes an increased ethanol producer tax credit for the production of cellulosic ethanol. Additionally the ethanol tariff import tariff, which is critical to the future of South Dakota's ethanol industry, would be extended for 2 years.

Although nothing is definite until the 2008 Farm Bill is passed into law, the framework announced Friday is expected to remain intact in the final Farm Bill. The Senate and House Farm Bill Conferees are scheduled to meet Monday, April 28th at 6:00 p.m. in what is hoped will be the final meeting to work out remaining differences.

"Those of us representing farm states will come out of the Farm Bill battles with a few bruises, but we will emerge with a Farm Bill, though not perfect, which is still better than any other alternative we have available," said Thune. "I look forward to Congress putting the finishing touches on this Farm Bill and hopefully passing it in the very near future for the President's consideration."