Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, I have been preparing for authorization of a new Farm Bill. Hundreds of hours on my schedule have been spent productively consulting with South Dakotans on farm bill issues for the past two years.

South Dakota farmers, ranchers, and agri-business men and women have shared with me, as have many of others from across America, their farm bill suggestions and concerns. And, wisely, they didn't wait until the "last minute" to do so.

Many federal farm programs authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2007. How did this deadline "sneak up" on the Democrat-controlled Senate with such subtlety that they missed the deadline for passing a new farm bill? It didn't. There's no excuse for their hand-wringing now and talk of short-term extensions, while farmers and ranchers are planting their 2008 winter wheat crop and making plans for the 2008 crop year, without knowing what the next farm bill holds in store.

Several major factors affecting the 2007 Farm Bill that have been used as excuses by the Majority for not getting it completed in a timely manner have been dominating farm bill discussions for more than a year. For example, Congress has been painfully aware that funding levels for farm bill spending would be dramatically smaller than for the 2002 Farm Bill. International trade agreement compliance issues have been prominent for more than two years. Additionally, spending needed for the Energy Title for research and development of alternative fuels has certainly been recognized for some time.

It's past time for the Democrat-controlled Senate to move beyond farm bill rhetoric. It's time for their leadership to take prompt action and work to pass a comprehensive bill out of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Now is the time to move forward so this important measure can be considered on the Senate floor and reconciled with the House-passed bill.

I've been engaging with my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee, both Democrat and Republican, to work out differences and compromise ideas so we can mold them into a farm bill we can all be proud of - and most important, one that well-serves production agriculture and promotes sustainable efficient alternative energy.

I remain optimistic that Congress will be able to shape the various farm bill components into a sound product; however, I can assure you that I will not settle for, or support, a farm bill that is inadequate or one that fails to meet the needs of South Dakota's agriculture community.

It's time to get this farm bill "in the bin." Just like harvest - the longer the wait, the greater the chance of losing out.