Our Voice: Noem takes GOP leaders to task over farm bill
Rep. Kristi Noem is frustrated and is not shy about explaining what is wrong with the farm bill that is stalled in Congress.
“A lot of thought, a lot of work went into finding $16 billion in savings,” Noem told the American News editorial board last week. “We haven’t done a very good job over the last several decades (explaining) why we have farm policy.”
Noem said new members of Congress haven’t worked on a farm bill before and have no agriculture in their home districts.
“They see food stamps and big checks to farmers,” the South Dakota Republican said.
Her frustration boiled over at a June GOP meeting after the farm bill failed to pass, according to Politico.
She lamented a lack of leadership from House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia. While she thought the meeting would be to outline a plan to get the farm bill passed — gutting nutrition assistance programs would drain the necessary Democratic support from the bill — instead, Boehner and Cantor asked for ideas from the room.
“Screw you … I’m done helping you,” she said, noting she won’t support Republican colleagues on their projects until they get behind the farm bill.
The Noem who visited our offices was a different person from candidate Noem in 2010. Now a two-term Congresswoman, she is studied on top issues, and that gives her anger and passion justification. Once a freshman GOP leader, today she is comfortable taking her own party to task on top-of-mind issues for South Dakotans.
Noem spoke on a few other key topics Tuesday:
• Noem is behind the End Sex Trafficking Act of 2013, which seems to take a proactive rather than reactive position against those who are part of the chain of abuse. Several human trafficking arrests in the Black Hills during the Sturgis rally this summer are the latest example of a widespread and growing problem.
The bill, Noem said, will go after the “perpetrators,” those who solicit or attempt to purchase sexual acts. At this time, Noem said, federal law doesn’t prosecute those people under trafficking laws.
While they might not be trafficking young boys and girls, per se, these people create the demand. This legislation would give extra tools to prosecutors.
• Noem again expressed support for ethanol production, reiterating the need for the infrastructure to allow ethanol and blends to compete pump-to-pump with gasoline. She described it as “affordable and renewable.”
“Ethanol has lost a little market share,” Noem said. “But ethanol has never been on fair footing.”
— American News editorial board