U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue for a series of agriculture-related events in the Rapid City area, including a listening session with tribal leaders, a tour of pine beetle-infested timber, a roundtable discussion with agriculture stakeholders from around the state, a tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base, and a Veterans to Agriculture Initiative listening session.
“I want to thank Secretary Perdue for making South Dakota one of his first visits as head of USDA,” said Thune. “The farmers and ranchers who help make agriculture our state’s top industry are keenly aware of the sluggish agricultural economy, and I know they appreciated the opportunity to share their stories and ideas directly with the secretary. As we continue to work on the next farm bill, this kind of feedback will be critically important to ensure we get a bill that strengthens the agriculture economy and helps farmers stay on their land.
“I’m also glad Secretary Perdue was able to see firsthand the destruction that’s been caused by the pine beetle epidemic in the Black Hills. Pine beetles are taking a toll on our forests and timber industry, and I look forward to working with the secretary to secure the resources we need to continue fighting this infestation.”
“I thank my friend, Secretary Perdue, for taking the time to visit with local tribal leaders, veterans and ag producers to hear firsthand the unique challenges facing South Dakotans,” said Rounds. “I appreciated the opportunity to visit Ellsworth Air Force Base with him to discuss the Dept. of Agriculture’s ‘Veterans to Agriculture’ initiative, which would provide service men and women with educational opportunities to pursue an ag career in South Dakota following their service. I look forward to continue working with Secretary Perdue on ways we can turn around South Dakota’s sluggish ag economy as Congress continues to develop the upcoming farm bill legislation.”
“It’s been an honor to call Secretary Perdue a friend through the years, but it was a special privilege to show him our tradition of agriculture and the people behind it in his role as our newest Agriculture Secretary,” said Noem. “I’ve often said that ag policy is as much about farmers as it is about food. But it’s also about our national security, because if other countries control our food supply, they can control us. Those concepts were reinforced today. Moreover, South Dakota is special in that we do a little of everything, from farming and ranching to forestry and research, which made it an essential stop for Secretary Perdue’s first few weeks on the job and a necessary visit as we begin to work on the upcoming Farm Bill.”