U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today issued the following statement after the Agriculture Committee approved, by a vote of 20-1, the Senate’s bipartisan farm bill, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Several Thune provisions were included in the base bill, which was introduced on June 8, and several more were included during today’s markup. Thune, who to date has introduced nearly one dozen standalone bills, which contain roughly 40 legislative initiatives and reforms to the farm bill, started this process in early 2017 in an effort to ensure a final farm bill reaches the president’s desk ahead of this fall’s expiration of the current farm bill.
“Every farm bill is important, but given today’s low commodity prices and an overall sluggish agriculture economy, it is critical that we get a new farm bill to the president’s desk before the current one expires,” said Thune. “The draft that was released last week was a good bill, but I’m glad that we were able to make it even stronger by adopting several additional amendments in the committee, including several proposals I’ve previously introduced. No bill is perfect, this one included, and while I still have a few ideas on how we can further strengthen it, the legislation we voted on today will no doubt help address the challenges producers are facing.”
Thune proposals adopted during today’s markup (click here for additional proposals included in the base bill):
- Thune’s Improved Soil Moisture and Precipitation Monitoring Act (introduced on May 23, 2018), which would provide tools and direction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help improve the accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor and require the coordination of USDA agencies that use precipitation data to determine livestock grazing loss assistance and stocking rates.
- Provisions of S. 909, Thune’s Conservation Program Improvement Act (introduced on April 10, 2017), which would eliminate payment limitations for rural water districts or associations that use land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program for wellhead protection areas.
- Additional provisions of S. 909, which would allow land enrolled in any easement program to be modified, at the owner’s expense, for water management, general maintenance, vegetative cover control, or any other purpose jointly approved by a state’s department of natural resources (or an equivalent state agency) and the State Technical Committee. Maintenance of USDA easement lands would have to provide equal or greater conservation and wildlife benefit.
Thune has served on the Agriculture Committee in both the House and Senate and is currently the only member of the South Dakota congressional delegation to serve on the committee. Thune has written three farm bills during his time in Congress, and the 2018 farm bill is his fourth. Agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, with more than 43 million acres of agricultural land throughout the state.To learn more about Thune’s 2018 farm bill effort, please visit the farm bill section on www.thune.senate.gov.