Noem joins N.D.’s Hoeven on farm bill committee

Farm Forum

SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Both Dakotas will have seats at the table when Congress attempts to negotiate a new farm bill, after South Dakota Republican Rep. Kristi Noem was appointed on Oct. 12 as a House conferee on the legislation.

Noem joins North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven, who was named in August as one of the Senate negotiators, as members on a conference committee that will try to iron out differences between the Senate and House farm bills.

Noem is the first House member from South Dakota since 1996 named to the farm bill committee.

“It’s great news for agriculture that we are going to conference to move this process forward, and it is a very positive thing for South Dakota’s agriculture producers to be represented at the negotiating table,” she said in a statement.

The Senate voted in June to pass its version of the farm bill. The House initially split its version into two bills, one for farm programs and one for nutrition programs, before combining them again.

Hoeven said it’s important to pass farm legislation by the end of the year. The current bill expired on Oct. 1.

“For a range of reasons, including the need for a secure and affordable food supply, it’s vital that we pass a good, bipartisan farm bill with strong risk management tools for the benefit of producers and American consumers alike,” Hoeven said.

The discussions come as South Dakota ranchers are reeling from massive livestock losses due to an early October snowstorm. Both the Senate and House versions of the farm bill have plans to assist producers in times of natural disaster, called the Livestock Indemnity Program.

“Even if the federal government was open it would take months to implement the Livestock Indemnity Program, assuming Congress can reach a compromise on the farm bill,” said Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president. “Agriculture is in the dark in South Dakota and all over the United States. It’s not just our ranchers, but many of us have felt or will soon feel the brunt of all of this.”

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said a majority of the negotiators are from districts where agriculture plays a major role.

“And I hope those conferees from areas where agriculture isn’t as large a player take a hard look during the discussions at why a farm bill is so important to rural communities,” she said.

House conferees include House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and fellow Republican Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Randy Neugebauer of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Mike Conaway of Texas, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, Austin Scott of Georgia, Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Jeff Denham of California, Rodney Davis of Illinois and non-committee members Steve Southerland of Florida, Ed Royce of California, Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, Dave Camp of Michigan, and Sam Johnson of Texas. Representing the House Democrats in conference will be Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Jim Costa of California, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Suzan DelBene of Washington, Gloria Negrete McLeod of California, Filemon Vela of Texas and Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Non-committee Democrats include Reps. Eliot Engel of New York and Sandy Levin of Michigan.

The House contingent joins Senate conferees Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).