U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement after the Senate overwhelming approved the bipartisan farm bill compromise by a vote of 87-13. The bill includes nearly 20 Thune-authored-and-supported provisions, and it must be approved by the House before it heads to the president who is expected to sign it into law.
“Aside from good weather, certainty can be a farmer’s best friend,” said Thune. “That’s why I’m glad that the House and Senate are coming together to put the agriculture community ahead of politics and act on this important legislation. This pro-agriculture farm bill will help give South Dakota farmers and ranchers greater economic certainty, which will allow them to focus on what’s most important in their line of work: growing crops and raising livestock.
“I say it as often as I can, but South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers are the best of the best. To them, agriculture is less of a job and more of a way of life. They’re proud of what they do to help feed not only people in the state and around the country, but in every corner of the world, as well.
“I’m thankful to live in a state that honors and appreciates everything farmers and ranchers do from the field all the way to the halls of Congress. Without their input, suggestions, and encouragement, I can say with certainty that the 2018 farm bill would look much different than it does today.”
Highlights of Thune-Authored-and-Supported Provisions Included in the Bipartisan Compromise Bill:
- Provisions of Thune’s Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP), which was included in S. 499 that he introduced in March 2017. SHIPP is a new voluntary income protection program that would provide participant farmers with a short-term acreage conserving use program, which unlike the traditional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), requires a commitment of only three to five years. SHIPP is authorized and funded as a pilot program at 50,000 acres in the six Prairie Pothole Region states: South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota.
- Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 1259), which would require that Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)-County payments be calculated using the physical location of each farm’s tract of land instead of the current policy, which uses a farm’s administrative county to determine payments.
- Provisions of an amendment introduced by Thune and included in the Senate farm bill that would allow producers who are currently enrolled in ARC or PLC to change enrollment in 2021, which is not permitted under current law. This provision was expanded in the final farm bill to also include 2022 and 2023.
- Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 909) to increase the CRP acreage cap. Thune proposed increasing it from 24 million to 30 million acres, and the final farm bill increased it to 27 million acres.
- Additional provisions of S. 909 that would target CRP acreage enrollment based on a state’s historical CRP acreage enrollment and allow greater flexibility and expanded haying and grazing options on land enrolled in CRP.
- Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 1913) that would close additional loopholes in sodsaver provisions to further disincentivize producers for converting native sod to cropland in exchange for increased crop insurance indemnities.
- Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 2936) that 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.
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.