Krebs talks farm bill, health care at ag expo

Erin Ballard
Farm Forum

Shantel Krebs wants to be the voice of South Dakota farmers.

At least that’s her plan if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives this year.

First, though, South Dakota’s secretary of state will have to garner the Republican nomination.

“I’m the only one running with an agricultural background,” Krebs said. “Let’s send somebody to Washington D.C., who gets that. (I want to help by) repealing and rolling back some burdens and regulations our farmers and ranchers continually fight against.”

Krebs stopped at the Aberdeen Ag Expo at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel on Feb. 22, where she talked with local and regional vendors about the current agriculture climate, health care and the 2018 farm bill.

When South Dakota farmers and ranchers face events like floods, hail and blizzards, they need protection if they’re going to continue to feed the nation. The livestock indemnification program is an example, she said.

The program provides compensation to producers for livestock deaths caused by adverse weather, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

“Our farmers feed the world. And so that’s why they need a safety net,” she said. “We do not want to rely on other countries to feed our South Dakotans or to feed our nation.”

What Krebs called a “farm crisis” — low commodity prices and other challenges faced in the slumping ag industry — was also a popular topic on Feb. 22.

“Our vendors here said it’s a tougher show,” she said. “Our farmers are being a little bit more cautious with investing, whether it be with new equipment or expansion or purchasing a new seed or input. Those are all things I’m hearing.”

Krebs said her goals in Washington would mirror President Donald Trump’s: Reform the government by cutting spending and improving efficiencies.

“One of the reasons I’m running for Congress is because, for the first time in my life, the federal government is being more responsive to South Dakotans and the taxpayers,” she said.

Krebs, who was raised on a farm near Arlington, said she also heard concerns from farmers and ranchers about the current health care system. She said she was shocked that the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare, was not repealed.

“You need to open that insurance market up and let our consumers have choices, let them be able to purchase insurance across the (state) lines,” she said. “It’s not a one size fits all. So competition really is what we need in this market.”

Ten to 15 years ago, Krebs said, South Dakota had 17 insurance providers in the state. Now, there are only two. That’s proof that more competition is needed, she said.

Krebs is one of three Republicans campaigning for the party’s U.S. House nomination. The others are Dusty Johnson, who used to be a state public utility commissioner and chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and state Sen. Neal Tapio of Watertown. The primary is in June.

Johnson also visited Aberdeen on Feb. 22, but did not schedule any public events.

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South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, right, speaks with Joe Hoyle of Ipswich Thursday at the Aberdeen Ag Expo at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel. Krebs is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. House of Representatives. American News photo by John Davis