The combination of a relatively strong agricultural economy and a move to cut trillions from the federal budget could have a dramatic impact on the next farm bill, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem told agricultural leaders on Monday in Rapid City.

“Because of the good farm economy, this farm budget is a huge target right now for cuts,” Thune, R-S.D, said at the Central States Fairgrounds while meeting with agricultural leaders. “Agriculture has already taken a big hit. Everybody is going to have to take a haircut because of the fiscal situation, but we need to be proportionate, agriculture shouldn’t take a disproportionate share.”

The comprehensive omnibus bill will be taken up in 2012 and replace the $288 billion bill passed in 2008.

Thune said some popular programs – like the Conservation Stewardship Program, which has a 10-year budget of $12 million – are likely on the chopping block. The program is designed to protect natural resources by encouraging farmers and ranchers to enroll and meet stewardship criteria.

Jeff Smeenk, vice president of the South Dakota Cattlemen, questioned the cuts for the conservation program that Thune said “has a huge bull’s-eye on its back.”

“For a nation that wants to go green, I would hate to see a program cut that rewards producers that are conservation-minded,” he said. “It helps people install practices that are good for the environment.”

Noem, R-S.D, said the agriculture appropriations bill and other indicators point to an uncertain future for farm bill programs that help farmers through tough times.

Ron Jeffries, the general manager of the Central States Fair, called for more local control and input for federally funded programs that affect South Dakotans.

“We oftentimes are impacted more severely by people that have nothing to do with South Dakota, but they want to act on our behalf,” Jeffries said. “These people here are good stewards of the lands, forests and animals, and we need to have our own destiny more locally controlled with less regulation, less oversight.”

Thune said the complaints about agency overreach, particularly concerning the Environmental Protection Agency, are common in South Dakota. He said more agency regulations exist now than he has seen in his six years as U.S. senator and that Democrats don’t seem inclined to change the culture in Washington.

“It’s a numbers game. The Senate doesn’t have the votes right now,” Thune said. “We can pass a resolution of disapproval, but it needs majority from both chambers and to pass the president.”

Noem said while the complaints about regulatory oversight are not unique, they have intensified in recent months as the budget-cutting debate heats up.

Steve Clements, president of the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association, asked Thune and Noem if funding could be restored for an aerial depredation program that was recently cut.

“It’s going to be ugly in the next few years if it doesn’t get funded,” Clements said of coyotes that can kill hundreds of sheep in a year.

A Thune staffer said funds should be available in the future but likely will come from another program.

Ron Frederick, executive director of the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, said another concern is the aging population of ranchers and the difficulties that young ranchers have getting started in the business.

“It’s so much paperwork to get started, too. Young farmers don’t want to go in and get the loans,” he said. “If we could streamline that a little bit, it wouldn’t be so intimidating.”

Thune said he left the meeting with some more anecdotes from South Dakotans that can be valuable when debating the need for regulations.

“The biggest takeaway is the incredible amount of overregulation and how it’s making it more difficult and more costly for people who make their living off the land,” he said. “It impressed upon me the importance of continuing to fight the fight in Washington to make things less complicated and less costly.”

Contact Nick Penzenstadler at 394-8415 or nick.penzenstadler@rapidcityjournal.com.

(9) comments

Carolina

Thune says that agriculture shouldn't take a disproportionate hit but he appears to be okay with the little 90 year old man who CANNOT work giving up more of his share. Here's a thought, Mr. Thune. Why don't you take a pay cut, purchase independent non-taxpayer-paid health insurance, and be willing to accept a government pension check ONLY if you are able to get in 30 years of government service. How about 4 weeks of leave a year and no other benefits?

South Dakota Resident

Now we must be fair, I would hope that all my liberal friends would know that not all " Tea Party" representatives are for farm subsidies.
You most certainly can disagree with Noem and/or the Tea Party but don't paint with a broad brush. In fact, for the most part the Tea Party, if they had their way would cut many things including some of the farm subsidies.

I personally like some of the fiscal stances that the Tea Party takes, however I differ with them on some of the moral issues that I don't believe the government should have anything to do with.

Remember, none of us are going to ever have the perfect politician, we can just hope that they do what we like done most of the time.

Just one mans opinion. Good day people!

wayawa

These farm subsidies are on the reservations too and going to those who are well off! We are against welfare to the sick, elderly and poor in SD, but self-interest congressional representatives always fight to get more free money for well to do farmers who get many tax exemptions so they do not pay their fair share of income taxes. Kristi Noem benefits very well from these subsidies and tax deductions while making bogus complaints about too much spending for the poor middle and lower class in our state. We need to vote this tea party representative out of office very soon!

West River
West River

Ranched/farmed for many many years. Never asked for any goverment subsities don't think they are needed. Killed my own praire dogs and got rid of my own weeds.

Oh, yes I do believe in meat inspections and brand inspectors. Those are things needed that I can't do myself.

Enough of the goverment welfare subsities to agriculture.

South Dakota Resident

Right now there is no reason for any agricultural subsidies, things are very good, we as a nation can't afford it and yes, I make a good living in the agriculture industry.
Now for all the liberals out there that talk down agricultural subsidies, be open minded when the budget cuts effect you.

olddutch

Kristi will vote against a lot of spending but not farm subsidies based on the fact that she and her family have received over 3 million dollars in subsidies in the last 10 years....you can bet she is going to do all she can to continue these.....lol

jtdotcom

I have ranched and farmed in S.D. all my life and I would cut the farm program 100%.If you cant stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

morningstar

The agricultural community voted in favor of budget cuts when they voted for Kristi-So what is the problem?

Sherlock

I would like to know what these over burdensome regulations are: Let's see, I can't dump my pesticides in the creek bottom any more. I have to have my garbage hauled away because they won't let me dump in my back canyon anymore. I have to have a meter on my well because I am using more than my share of water and letting it run into the road ditch. Common sense people the regulations are in place to protect people and land from the people who say they are the best conservationists in the world. I grew up on a farm my family still farms but the regulations aren't over burdening just rules we need to follow to make a better farm.

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