US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: When You Defend Agriculture, You Defend South Dakota

When You Defend Agriculture, You Defend South Dakota
By Sen. John Thune

In a 1982 radio address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan had a simple yet poignant message for U.S. farmers. He said, “I’ve always thought that when we Americans get up in the morning, when we see bacon, eggs, toast, and milk on our breakfast table, we should give thanks that our farmers are survivors. You are the real miracle workers of the modern world – keepers of an incredible system based on faith, freedom, hard work, productivity, and profit.”

Reagan’s edict to the American people was as true then as it is today: farming and ranching is no easy business. In fact, if you ask most farmers and ranchers today, they’d tell you it’s less of a business and more of a way of life. They’d tell you that you’re born with it in your blood – the willingness to climb out of bed before the sun breaks in the east and, without a complaint or dragging feet, work until Mother Nature turns out the lights in the west.

Farmers and ranchers care about what they do and how they do it nearly as much as they care about their family, friends, and the Lord above who knows there’s a uniqueness about them – a toughness that, despite the hardest times, will never break their faith. These are the people I’m proud to represent in Washington, and they’re why I left it all on the field when it came to writing and passing the 2018 farm bill.

I work on a lot of meaningful issues with my colleagues in Washington, but when it comes to defending South Dakota’s top industry, I take a backseat to no one. I’ve never underestimated or taken for granted what it means to fight for our state’s agriculture community, and I never will.

I introduced my first farm bill proposal in early 2017 and spent more than a year drafting proposal after proposal to help lay the groundwork for the bipartisan farm bill Congress just overwhelmingly approved. Without their help, I can honestly say it would look much different than it does today. And because of their help, it will help provide more of the economic certainty and security they want and need.

The provision I’m proudest to have had included in the bill is the establishment of the Soil Health and Income Protection Program. SHIPP, as it’s known, is a three-to-five-year enrollment alternative to the popular Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which, while a popular program, locks up enrolled land for a decade or more. This is the first time in the 30-plus year history of CRP that farmers will have the opportunity to enroll in a short-term conserving use program like this one that has these kinds of flexible options.

I wish there was enough time or room on this page to describe all of the big things in the farm bill that will benefit South Dakota, but suffice it to say, the bill contains nearly 20 provisions that have our state’s fingerprints on them – a direct result of the feedback and suggestions I received from farmers and ranchers throughout the state over the last few years.

I can’t think of a better or more succinct way of explaining the government’s role in agriculture than how President Reagan described it, saying it should “act as friend, partner, and promoter of American farmers and their products.” He said, “I want with all my heart to see your burdens lifted, to see farmers who have given so much to America receive the rewards they deserve.” It’s true, and I believe the 2018 farm bill mirrors that timeless perspective.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Five-Year Farm Bill Will Provide Certainty, Stability to South Dakota Ag Community

Five-Year Farm Bill Will Provide Certainty, Stability to South Dakota Ag Community
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

After months of negotiations, Congress recently passed a five-year farm bill with strong bipartisan support. This vital piece of legislation will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers across the country, and especially in South Dakota where our state’s economy depends on agriculture. With more than 31,500 farms across the state, South Dakota ranks in the top 10 for ag production, providing a $21 billion dollar impact on our economy annually.

With net farm income down 50 percent in the past five years and producers on the tip of the spear with the ongoing trade disputes, the farm bill will provide our ag community with much-needed stability as they plan for the future. A five-year farm bill is necessary to give South Dakota producers the certainty they need to help weather times of low commodity prices, such as the one we are experiencing now. Measures included in the farm bill can help them keep their operations viable.

During farm bill negotiations, I outlined my priorities to the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee to make certain the top concerns of South Dakota producers were heard. I was pleased most of these priorities were addressed as part of the final farm bill package, including a measure to increase the cap for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres from 24 million acres to 27 million acres, with 2 million acres reserved for grasslands. The farm bill also strengthens the federal crop insurance program, increases the total Farm Service Agency (FSA) Guaranteed and Direct Loan Program authorization to $12 billion and establishes an Animal Disease and Preparedness Program. This includes a vaccination bank to combat economic, food and national security concerns. Additionally, it allows for re-enrollment for producers utilizing commodity programs under Title I, specifically Price-Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC).

It also includes Sen. John Thune’s provision to update and improve accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor and better use collected data to determine emergency grazing procedures through FSA. This is an important provision for South Dakota producers in times of extreme drought like we experienced in much of the state last year.

Farmers and ranchers in South Dakota work hard every day to feed and fuel a growing population here in the U.S. and around the world. As in all businesses, some years are better than others. During those tough times, it’s important that producers have access to tools that can help them keep going.

I thank Senate and House Agriculture Committee leaders and members for their work getting this important bill passed the finish line. It is a critical step toward providing certainty and stability for South Dakota farmers and ranchers as we continue to seek ways to improve the ag economy as a whole.

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Governor-Elect Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: The Farm Bill: Protecting America’s Food Supply

The Farm Bill: Protecting America’s Food Supply
By Governor-elect Kristi Noem

Between a drought, poor prices, hail, and diminished net farm incomes, South Dakota’s agriculture economy has taken a significant hit in recent years. Without the proper safety nets in place for unexpected circumstances like these, farmers aren’t able to do what they do best: feed the world

While you can’t change the weather, you can change policy. And that’s exactly what I did. Earlier this month, I was proud to help lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing the 2018 Farm Bill. This is a significant step toward securing a safety net, not only for South Dakota producers, but for America’s food supply.

This critical legislation maintains strong crop insurance and livestock disaster programs and makes improvements to the commodity title. Additionally, we expand support for rural broadband and increase investments in farm country.

It was a true privilege to represent South Dakota during Farm Bill discussions, and now I’m bringing that experience home. There’s a lot of work to do here, too.

With increasing trade, both foreign and domestic, risk of foot-and-mouth, avian influenza, and many other diseases has greatly increased in recent years. But South Dakota – backed by SDSU’s world-class animal disease research program, including the new laboratory that is currently under construction – is uniquely positioned to improve livestock disease management practices. Working with the university, the Animal Industry Board, the State Veterinarian, and our growing biotech industry, we can mitigate economic and environmental impacts while improving overall herd and flock health.

Furthermore, I’ll seek to enhance infrastructure to support farmers and grow the economy. As governor, I will work to improve the state’s infrastructure to lower the basis for grain products, putting more money in the hands of hardworking farmers and growing our economy.

And while we bolster the existing industry, we must also equip young farmers with the skills they need to succeed in agriculture. I’ll work to expand education and increase investments in production-boosting research, such as biotechnology and precision ag. I’ll also encourage the life-changing, inspirational work of programs like 4-H and FFA, complete SDSU’s precision ag building, which the state legislature recently approved, and enhance the Governor’s Ag Summit to increase access and educational offerings.

I’m proud of the Farm Bill and the way it ensures people all across our country have access to the safest, most plentiful food supply in the world grown right here in our South Dakota fields. Our ag industry is special – it’s our legacy, our way of life. I’m committed to protecting that legacy and advancing it so it’s sustainable for generations to come.

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Sharing the Joy and Peace of Christmas

Sharing the Joy and Peace of Christmas
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Sometimes I wonder if every kid who grew up on a South Dakota farm or ranch went out with their dad on Christmas Eve searching for Santa Claus.

We always did. Dad would load us kids in the car. Mom stayed behind, to finish a few jobs, she always said. We would drive in the hushed countryside, peering through the frosted windows at the night sky for a glimpse of a sleigh and reindeer. Young as I was, I found magic in the search.

On clear nights, the moon and stars twinkled from horizon to horizon. Fresh snow on the stubble fields and pastures sparkled as if someone had spilled a huge bag of sugar. Once or twice the moonlight on the snow played tricks on my young mind, making me believe I spotted the shadow of a flying object. When I looked up, though, all I saw was that magnificent blanket of stars in the South Dakota sky.

We never found Santa, but somehow when we returned to the warm farmhouse, he’d been there. Brightly wrapped presents lay under and around the tree. One year, he even left our presents on the low, snow-covered kitchen roof.  I love the memories of those childhood Christmas Eves, even if we never caught the jolly man in the red suit. As a child, I knew he was out there.

I suppose I had my doubts once in a while, just as eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon did in 1897 when she wrote to the editor of the New York Sun to ask, “Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?’’

Francis Church, editor of the newspaper, responded with a wonderful and timeless editorial that included the lines, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.’’

No child, no adult, needs to actually spy Santa Claus to know that love, generosity and devotion exist. Those qualities surround us, if we only pause to recognize them. Any mom or dad will know how rewarding it is to watch a child open a gift. And it is truly fulfilling, a rich gift to our spirits, to share the joy of the season with others. We can do that with our own children home from college or on leave from military duty. We can do it with friends and neighbors. We can do it with strangers we meet on the street, with anyone in need in our communities.

Taking time at Christmas to appreciate the gifts we receive all year round and to share the gifts we have with others is a sure way to make the holiday a most fulfilling and blessed time of the year.

And it isn’t just at Christmas season that we could appreciate and share our gifts. Bob Hope, that gentle and witty comedian, once said, “My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: Loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?’’

Why, indeed? May each of us find joy and peace in the blessings of this Christmas season, and may we share that joy and peace all through the year.

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South Dakota man attempts to beat scram with ham

This is the kind of thing you expect to read about someone from Florida, not South Dakota:

“Oh, this is the ham case,” state Judge Mark Barnett said, remembering.

Roberts had used a piece of ham stuck between his SCRAM bracelet and his leg to interfere with the bracelet’s detection of his alcohol use, according to court officers.

“That doesn’t bode well for a bail request,” Barnett said. “I can’t put out our on a SCRAM (bracelet) if you know how to beat it. . . How long did the ham work?”

Read the entire tale of lunch-meat lawlessness here.

Does Ryan Brunner know he’s being woe-d?

From Facebook, this morning former gubernatorial candidate and political ‘character’ Lora Hubbel took it upon herself to use social media to cast biblical woe upon the South Dakota Office of School and Public Lands.

Has anyone mentioned to Ryan Brunner that his office is being woe-d this morning?

That might be funnier than her Facebook post about demons creating digital portals to our world.

Remember Constitution Party. You have to keep her. Republicans don’t ever want her back!

Noem Applauds TAG Following Retirement Announcement

Noem Applauds TAG Following Retirement Announcement

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor-elect Kristi Noem today applauded the dedicated service of Major General Timothy A. Reisch following his retirement announcement. Reisch has served as The Adjutant General (TAG) for South Dakota since April 2011. He will continue serving until his retirement in June 2019.

“South Dakota has a proud history of service in the National Guard,” said Governor-elect Kristi Noem. “I have the deepest respect for General Reisch’s commitment to improving our state’s safety and his dedication to bolstering our threat response readiness. I look forward to appointing a service-oriented leader who will continue General Reisch’s legacy of commitment to the wellbeing and security of South Dakota.”

“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve with Governor-elect Noem over the next few months as we work to create a safer and stronger South Dakota,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Reisch. “Our state’s National Guard is in its highest state of enduring readiness of its 156-year history. I’m proud of the results we’ve produced, and I look forward to seeing the next Adjutant General take our organization to even higher levels as the needs and demands for National Guard readiness continue to grow.”

Reisch, a Howard native, launched his military career when he enlisted in the South Dakota Army National Guard in 1978. The general was appointed TAG by Governor Dennis Daugaard and has served as Commanding General for both the South Dakota Air and Army National Guard, guiding the preparation of over 4,000 Air and Army National Guard citizen soldiers to respond in times of state or national emergency. He has also served as the governor’s top counsel regarding the use of the National Guard.

Noem will work in conjunction with the South Dakota National Guard to appoint a replacement TAG, and applicants will be vetted through a panel appointed by Noem.

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Billie Sutton back at it, begging donors for three more months of donations.

Billie Sutton is at it again.  Yesterday, he hit donors with yet another request for money, and offered that he’ll tell them what he intends to do with the cash in three months:

I’m reaching out to personally ask you to continue your monthly gift for 3 more months. In that time, my team will be sharing what’s next and your support will be pivotal to putting our plan in action.”

I wonder what that “plan” could be?

Interestingly, I heard yesterday that  – supposedly – Senator Chuck Schumer had approached former Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin about the State’s US Senate seat in 2020. And, if what I’m hearing is accurate, I’m told she had turned him down flat.

That doesn’t really leave them with a lot of options at this point.

We’ll continue to monitor the continued begging for dollars from the Sutton for Governor campaign. And whether Billie’s fundraising and Democrats’ lack of viable statewide candidates for 2020 might have a few things in common.