Senators Johnson and Thune support Farm Bill | TSLN.com

Senators Johnson and Thune support Farm Bill

As the farm bill awaits President Obama's signature, South Dakota's crop and livestock producers are eager for the relief this bipartisan bill, Agriculture Act of 2014, provides, said South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, following its passage in the Senate by a 68-32 vote.

"South Dakota Farmers Union is very appreciative for the support of Senator Johnson and Senator Thune," Sombke said. "They have been leaders on agriculture issues important to our state and have worked hard to represent South Dakota's farmers and ranchers in the farm bill."

Within the farm bill are several programs designed to aid livestock producers including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) which would cover 75 percent of the market value for excessive livestock losses due to adverse weather, including blizzards. LIP will retroactively apply to 2012 and 2013, allowing livestock producers to receive aid from the October storm which decimated western South Dakota livestock herds. Additional livestock programs include a continuation of the Livestock Forage Program that compensates producers for grazing losses from drought or fire and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a financial and technical assistance program to assist in the implementation of conservation practices to producers. Sixty percent of all EQIP funding has been dedicated to producers in livestock production.

Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) is yet another protection the farm bill provides to U.S. livestock producers as well as consumers. Ensuring COOL was a part of the 2014 Farm Bill was a top priority for South Dakota Farmers Union.

"Even though no one got everything they wanted from this long drawn out process, this is a positive bill for South Dakota's farmers, ranchers and consumers," Sombke said. "SDFU has long advocated for COOL. The farm bill protects COOL and allows the USDA to continue implementation of the current law."

Other SDFU priorities included in the bill include; fixed reference prices to provide assistance to famers only when truly necessary, a strong crop insurance title that is tied to conservation, and mandatory funding for renewable energy programs.

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–S.D. Farmers Union