SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO-AM) Rep. Kristi Noem today signed the Farm Bill Conference report, which was filed earlier today.  As a member of the Conference Committee that negotiated the agreement, Rep. Noem served as the state’s voice throughout the negotiations, earning livestock disaster, crop insurance, forestry and conservation provisions that are critically important to South Dakota.

“We are in the final stretch,” said Rep. Noem.  “I’m pleased to be able to put my name on this Farm Bill Conference report and move us another step closer to the final passage of this much-anticipated and much-needed legislation.”

Rep. Noem added:  “Winter Storm Atlas brought the urgency of passing the Farm Bill to the forefront of the dialogue here in Congress.  The hundreds of producers who lost cattle may soon be offered relief and certainty going forward.  At the same time, we’ve been able to maintain a strong crop insurance program, make it easier for the Forest Service to combat the pine beetle crisis, protect our native grasslands, support research and offer billions of dollars in savings to taxpayers.”

Rep. Noem is the first House member from South Dakota to be appointed as a member of the Farm Bill conference in nearly 20 years.  The Conference report that was filed today is expected to be voted on by the full House as early as Wednesday.  The legislation will then head to the Senate for final passage before arriving at the President’s desk for his signature.  The bill protects and strengthens many of the programs Rep. Noem has been a vocal supporter of, including a strong crop insurance program, the Livestock Disaster Program, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

South Dakota Highlights:

  • Saves More than $20 Billion.  The Farm Bill will reduce spending by more than $20 billion.  The savings were found through a series of reforms throughout the Farm Bill, including the elimination of direct payments and reforms to the nutrition program that help uphold the program’s integrity while saving around $8 billion.
  • Strengthens Livestock Disaster Program.  The Conference Committee based the Livestock Disaster Program off the House’s language, which was authored by Rep. Noem and offers a higher reimbursement rate than the Senate version did.  As a result, the program would reimburse producers up to 75% of the fair market value.  Additionally, the program will be retroactive for 2012 and 2013 and extend through the life of the Farm Bill.  Finally, the legislation raises the cap to $125,000 for a single producer and $250,000 for a married couple.
  • Gives Additional Tools to Combat Pine Beetle Crisis.  As urged by Rep. Noem, the agreement helps get boots on the ground faster for pine beetle mitigation efforts.  It does this by streamlining lengthy environmental red-tape on insect and disease infested areas of forests throughout the United States at the request of a state’s Governor. It also includes acategorical exclusion of 3,000 acres.  In November 2013, Rep. Noem hosted U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in the Black Hills to show him the damage.  While there, he stated that we need to start dealing with thousands of acres rather than hundreds.  This Farm Bill allows for that.
  • Reauthorizes the Sun Grant Initiative.  The Farm Bill maintains the Sun Grant Initiative, which has created a network of land-grant universities, including South Dakota State University, that work together to further establish a biobased renewable energy economy.
  • Establishes an Office of Tribal Relations in the USDA.  The legislation permanently establishes an Office of Tribal Relations within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help improve communication between the USDA and Tribal nations.  Rep. Noem originally authored the provision in the House version of the bill.
  • Renew PILT Funds.  The legislation renews funding for Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT), helping states fix roads, hire teachers, pay police officers and provide other vital services.  This is especially important to rural communities throughout South Dakota.
  • Includes Noem’s Protect Our Prairies Language for Certain States.  The Farm Bill includes the Protect Our Prairies Act, which was written by Rep. Noem.  The legislation encourages conservation of native sod and grassland by decreasing crop insurance support for the first four years after the sod/grassland is broken.  This provision only applies in South Dakota, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa.