Rep. Kristi Noem today released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the agency would open additional CRP acres for emergency haying:
“I am always amazed by the resilience of South Dakota ranchers, but this year’s devastating drought goes far beyond the challenges most producers have had to face in recent years. With many pastures in poor or very poor condition, I’m hopeful these added CRP acres will provide some degree of relief. I am sincerely grateful to Secretary Perdue and the USDA for hearing my concerns and offering the support South Dakota ranchers need right now.”
In a June 2017 letter to Secretary Perdue, Rep. Noem urged the agency to release all South Dakota CRP acres for haying. Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing.Read More
For decades, the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota, was used for mining gold, but today, we are mining the site for something much more valuable: a new understanding of how the natural world works.
This summer, I helped break ground on a new section of the research facility that’s located in the mine, now known as Sanford Lab. More than 4,000 feet underground, new experiments will be conducted on sub-atomic particles called neutrinos.
Neutrinos are extremely small particles that have almost no mass and travel at near lightspeeds. As John Conway, a professor of physics at the University of California, Davis, puts it: “They’re just little whisps of almost nothing.” And yet, neutrinos are a basic element of our universe. Just hold your hand out in the sunlight for a second and around 1 billion neutrinos will pass through it. Pretty amazing.
Despite the fact that there are billions of neutrinos flowing through each square inch of Earth at all times, we know very little about them. But that’s exactly what these new experiments are setting out to do. Many hope the knowledge gained will have a profound impact on everything from the speed of global communications to our understanding of black holes. The possibilities are endless, which is why the U.S. particle physics community highlighted the effort as the highest priority domestic construction project.
Over the last few years, we’ve been focused on building a community of support around the Sanford Lab and the experiments done there. I’ve had to fight to make the case that this ought to be a priority and push hard to ensure adequate investments were made. I was proud to get some breakthroughs and excited it has earned the support of international partners and the Trump administration.
Beyond the science – beyond satisfying our own curiosities – this project also carries significant opportunity for South Dakota. According to a 2016 study commissioned by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, this experiment will contribute as much as $952 million to South Dakota’s economy, while creating nearly 2,000 jobs.
The indirect benefits are profound as well. In building a modern, knowledge-based economy, we are opening new opportunities for the best and the brightest to thrive in South Dakota. From elementary and high school students to those pursuing a world-class physics education at places like the South Dakota School of Mines, the next generation now has the opportunity to pursue their dreams right here in South Dakota.
The future of science is happening in our backyard. I’m excited to see what knowledge we can mine.Read More
President Trump's campaign promise to withdraw from or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement is taking another step toward reality with the objectives that the U.S. Trade Representative released last week.
There aren't specific changes suggested in the 18-page "Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation," but rather the administration puts forward concepts it hopes to achieve.
The summary itself says, in part:
"The America that existed when NAFTA was signed is not the America that we see today. Some Americans have benefited from new market access provided by the Agreement. It contributed to the linking of the continent through trade, while at the same time NAFTA provided much needed market access for American farmers and ranchers.
"But NAFTA also created new problems for many American workers. Since the deal came into force in 1994, trade deficits have exploded, thousands of factories have closed, and millions of Americans have found themselves stranded, no longer able to utilize the skills for which they had been trained. For years, politicians promising to renegotiate the deal gave American workers hope that they would stop the bleeding. But none followed up," says USTR in the introduction of their objectives.
South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem, a farmer who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, takes particular interest in trade agreements because of her vocation. The Republican lawmaker who has announced her intent to run for governor of her state said she has weighed in heavily with the administration regarding NAFTA.
"We've been a part of the discussion. My number one thing has been 'do no harm.'" She said she has encouraged the president to be cautious not to do anything that could cause the United States to lose its position in the market. "If we lose market share, another country comes in and takes that opportunity and we don't get it back," she said.
Noem said that livestock is a priority in the USTR renegotiation objectives. One idea is to eliminate tariffs or ensure that they are fair and unbiased. Noem said that she believes the USTR wants to cut tariffs that add expense to livestock exports. "I think we've given more access than we've received," she said about livestock under NAFTA. Low cattle prices in recent years could be helped by trade agreements, Noem believes, and while she recognizes that the U.S. currently imports more cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico than it exports – in both dollars and pounds – she hopes that the renegotiation of NAFTA is an opportunity to restore profitability to the cattle industry.
Within hours of the USTR's release of its objectives, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association came out in support. The concepts "are beneficial to the U.S. beef industry because they encourage the continuation of terms that have benefitted the industry for decades – specifically duty-free access and science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards," the group said.
While country of origin labeling for beef wasn't specifically mentioned, Noem said she doesn't think it's "off the table," either.
"It can still be discussed. We're still discussing it on capitol hill," she said.
NCBA calling itself an "outspoken supporter of NAFTA," said in a news release that it supports the USTR renegotiation objectives and that it will continue to advise the President not to "repeat mistakes of the past" by implementing mandatory COOL.
"As we learned from history, MCOOL failed to deliver higher values for producers or a safer food supply," NCBA President Craig Uden said. "It did, however, result in further consolidation in the U.S. beef industry and the potential for $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico. We must learn from the mistakes of the past, not repeat them," said Uden in the release.
Leo McDonnell, Director Emeritus for USCA said his group believes changes need to be made to NAFTA to address the trade deficit that has the U.S. importing twice as much beef and cattle from Canada and Mexico as it exports to them.
The irony in the fact that the NAFTA objectives were released the same day as the White House's "Made in America showcase" was not lost on McDonnell.
"President Trump is promoting made in the USA goods, plus he specifically mentioned agricultural goods and beef in a press conference with Sonny Perdue today (July 19)."
COOL needs to be added into the new NAFTA language, McDonnell said, and he believes the objectives open the door for just that.
"U.S. ranchers had the greatest market we've ever had when we had COOL in effect. When COOL went out, so did the profits," he said. "USDA's own numbers prove that there was increased value for US beef with COOL."
The spread between domestic and imported lean beef product was significant when COOL was in place, he said
"You can't sit here and tell U.S. ranchers that they need to learn to compete in a global marketplace and then block them from identifying their product. It's irrational."
Other countries, including Canada, are utilizing country of origin labeling, even while threatening retaliatory measures toward the U.S. for using it. "When COOL was repealed, Canada was actually doing the same thing that we were doing – they were differentiating their beef from U.S. beef so they could export to China. The same packers that are fighting COOL in this country were differentiating carcasses and applying origin labels in Canada. So when the packers say 'we can't do this, it's too expensive,' it's ridiculous. They were doing it already."
There is discrepancy between the language in the USTR's NAFTA objectives and President Trump's true trade goals, McDonnell believes.
"On the rules of origin, they talk about benefiting the US and North America, and sourcing goods from the US and North America. I don't believe that is what President Trump meant when he said we should 'Make America great again.' He meant the United States."
McDonnell said he's concerned that special interest groups have convinced some of the Trump administration to compromise the cattle industry by not enforcing COOL.
The pre-cursor to international trade agreements, GATT or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, allowed each country to maintain sovereignty and control over its own laws, within reason.
McDonnell believes that under more recent trade agreements, including NAFTA, the U.S. has given up its ability to self-govern. "We've started adopting some of the trade laws and governances of more socialistic countries," he said.
Cattle and beef need to be recognized as "perishable" and "cyclical" items in NAFTA, he said, which is something Congress even requires trade agreements to do. "We all know there is a lot more value in fresh beef than frozen beef. And a fat steer – when he's ready to kill, you'd better be killing him. If you can't get him sold and you have to hold him two or three weeks, you've lost all of your profits."
McDonnell believes that with the help of Senator Enzi (R-Wyoming) and others on the Senate Finance Committee, the perishable and cyclical provisions will be included in the NAFTA re-write.
Noem said she hopes the administration looks at regulatory compatibility. "Sometimes you have a good trade agreement that opens up a market but that country will use a regulation that will be so burdensome it adds cost to our beef or other products and keeps it from being affordable."
Addressing currency manipulation is another objective of the USTR, said Noem. "I don't think it's ever been talked about in a trade agreement but it shows that the administration is focused on that," she said.
One NAFTA objective is to "Eliminate the Chapter 19 dispute settlement mechanism," which is something McDonnell and USCA support.
"They have undermined our trade remedy laws and need to be eliminated," he said.
McDonnell said that he helped file lawsuits against Canada in the late 1990s based on anti-dumping laws and countervailing duties. "We saw them both happening," he said, adding that the lumber industry may have been harmed even worse than the cattle industry in the last 20 years for the same thing.
According to U.S. Customs and Border protection:
"Dumping occurs when foreign manufacturers sell goods in the United States less than fair value, causing injury to the U.S. industry. AD cases are company specific; their duties are calculated to bridge the gap back to a fair market value.
"CVD cases are established when a foreign government provides assistance and subsidies, such as tax breaks to manufacturers that export goods to the U.S., enabling the manufacturers to sale the goods cheaper than domestic manufacturers. CVD cases are country specific, and the duties are calculated to duplicate the value of the subsidy."
Canada's subsidization of its dairy industry has had a negative impact on U.S. dairy operations, Noem said. "That is obviously going to be a big focus and something we talk about specifically."
The president will deal with these issues in the NAFTA talks, McDonnell believes. "The administration has promised they will address it and I believe they will. Trump is a good businessman," said McDonnell.Read More
On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.
“We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” Perdue said. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”
For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant, in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or “severe,” drought level or greater based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end by Sept. 30, 2017, and emergency haying must end by Aug. 31, 2017.
The secretary said epic dry conditions -- as high as D4 drought in some areas -- coupled with an intense heatwave, have left pastures in poor or very poor condition resulting in the need for ranchers to, at best, supplement grain and hay and at worst, sell their herds.
"The conditions in the Great Plains this summer are some of the worst we’ve seen. After a harsh winter, hay was already in short supply, and with almost no moisture for months, our members in the upper Great Plains are hurting. A deteriorating feed supply has forced many ranchers to drive hundreds of miles to purchase hay, while others have already sold their herds," National Farmers Union (NFU) president Roger Johnson added. "NFU is grateful for the USDA’s immediate and ongoing action to offer meaningful assistance for farmers and ranchers in the affected areas. In the short term, emergency haying and grazing on CRP land will provide much-needed relief and, in the long term, will protect the viability of many of these operations."
Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing. Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs. CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.
Additional information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/emergency-hayandgraze.
Farm and ranch families need a permanent tax code that boosts the agricultural economy and frees them to reinvest in their businesses, South Dakota Farm Bureau President Scott VanderWal, told the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy on July 13.
“Farmers and ranchers operate under tight profit margins, often for rates of return that are modest compared to other businesses,” said VanderWal. “Our businesses are also cyclical where a period of prosperity can be followed by one or more unprofitable years.”
Farming is challenging under the best circumstances, with uncontrollable weather, disease outbreaks and unpredictable markets, said VanderWal, who also serves as vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and farms near Volga, S.D. On his family farm, VanderWal has seen the price of corn go as high as $7.60 per bushel to as low as $2.80 per bushel in the last 10 years. Nationwide, net farm income has been cut nearly in half since 2011.
Video clips of VanderWal’s testimony and follow-up questions by U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, can be found by following these links:
• https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iEx9r7k18ARead More
That’s how many, on average, we lose every day to suicide. 20 veterans a day. 600 a month. 7,300 a year.
At least one South Dakotan, however, is dedicated to bringing that number to zero and his efforts have earned him the 2017 Army Times Soldier of the Year Award.
Major Chris Mercado, a native of Sioux Falls who I met with earlier this month, joined the military after earning his degree from USD. By 2006, he was deployed to Baghdad, and upon completion of his tour, he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. In 2014, he was deployed to Jerusalem. His service has earned him three Bronze Star Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, and many other honors. But maybe his most heroic act was a six-hour phone call he took in the fall of 2014.
His former squad leader, Staff Sargent Justin Miller, had recently transitioned out of the military. Unemployed, Justin was abusing alcohol to deal with survivor’s guilt and contemplating suicide. He’d hit “rock bottom.” But Chris made time to listen and the thoughts Justin had of taking his own life began to dissipate.
The following year, Justin and Chris joined to form the Objective Zero Foundation and are now building a smart phone app to instantly and anonymously connect active-duty service members, veterans, and families with someone who can help. The user has the choice of connecting with someone (a licensed therapist, minister, another veteran or service member, a concerned citizen, etc.) by phone, over text, or on a video chat. In short, the app will put a community of support at the fingertips of those who desperately need someone to listen.
This app is one tool in a network of support for our veterans and service members.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for instance, operates a Veterans Crisis Line, which can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Meanwhile, resources like Coaching Into Care offer support to the family and friends of veterans. Engaging these hidden heroes is critical.
Nationwide, there are more than 5 million military caregivers responding to the needs of current and former service members. And I’m proud both Aberdeen and Rapid City have been recognized as “Hidden Heroes Cities,” joining a network of communities across the country that are dedicated to increasing resources for military and veteran caregivers.
There is a role each of us can play to support service members and their families – and I encourage you to with this reminder from Major Mercado, which he wrote in a 2015 editorial: “For the American public, most of whom did not participate directly in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easy to pretend that the fight is over?—?or to go along as if the wars never occurred at all. For veterans like Justin, however, the battle still rages, this time on the home front. His story is a stark reminder of the human costs of war?—?costs easily concealed by sympathy without empathy. It demands that we never forget, calls us all to action, and reminds us of the heavy burden carried by those who bore the brunt of the fight on our behalf.”
20 veterans a day. 600 a month. 7,300 a year. It’s too many.
**** Additional Notes: The Operation Zero app will be available in late-July. Veterans can access the 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Caregivers can access the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.Read More
Five years after 25-year-old veteran Colton Levi Derr took his own life, his father is carrying on his mission.
The younger Derr, a New Underwood native who served or led 500 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned from battle suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an affliction shared by thousands of combat veterans, the Rapid City Journal reported. On April 28, 2012, Colton killed himself off base in Fort Drum, N.Y.
But virtually every week since his son's death, his father, Jerry Derr, has received a reminder that his boy was not alone. Those reminders often are prompted by a phone call from a homeless veteran somewhere in the U.S., who may be seeking monetary assistance from the Colton Levi Derr Foundation, or simply a sympathetic ear.
"Just Friday, I received a call from a veteran from Jacksonville, N.C.," Derr said Monday. "He was having a cup of coffee on the street because he was homeless."
"I hear you help veterans out," the man told Derr. "He said, 'Another veteran talked to me and said you help vets,' and I said 'yes.' That's the type of outreach we were looking for when we set up our son's foundation."
Since its inception in 2012, the Derr Foundation has provided more than 100 veterans with financial assistance ranging from help paying bills, cellphones and attorneys, to acquiring a service dog, a vehicle or paying mortgages or funeral expenses.
"We've lost more soldiers to suicide than have died in action," Derr said. "We were not unlike most parents who don't know the loss of a child until, unfortunately, we experienced that. But we made a decision within a week of Colton's death that we could help others."
Today, which Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proclaimed, "Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Awareness Day," represents an effort to encourage state residents to reflect on the causes, symptoms and treatment of post-traumatic stress injuries.
"The brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who proudly serve the United States and risk their lives to protect our freedom deserve the investment of every possible resource to ensure their lasting physical, mental, and emotional well-being," the governor's proclamation states.
Derr, an administrator with Meade County, said he was bolstered by the increased attention the state is giving to PTSD and its veterans, as one of the primary missions of his son's foundations is to heighten awareness of PTSD issues that lead to an estimated 20 or more veterans and one active duty soldier committing suicide every day.
He also lauded South Dakota's congressional delegation, and in particular Rep. Kristi Noem, for working to increase awareness of Veterans Administration programs and other resources available to veterans suffering from PTSD. Information about the Derr Foundation may be accessed online at sergeantderrfoundation.org.
"We want family members and the community to be aware that when their sons and daughters come home from the war zone, the war often isn't over," he said. "There is a stigma associated with PTSD, just based on the name itself. But these vets are not damaged goods. Many are extremely productive and are a great asset to their country and their communities.
"The best resource you can provide is to listen," he added. "Listen without judgment."
Derr said he expected the foundation to conduct its primary fundraiser, The Gallantly Forward Gala, held annually since 2013, again this fall. In addition to raising funds with which it assists veterans, the foundation attempts to put a face on the combatants who have come home only to confront another enemy.
And in that effort, Derr gains some sense of solace, knowing the memory of his late son will never fade away.
"Colton was a hero in life, and today his name is carrying on through the foundation," Derr said quietly. "He did not die in vain."Read More
An upgrade to a key anti-trafficking bill passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, and has been praised by one U.S. bishop as “an important step” in the fight to abolish modern-day slavery.
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, called H.R. 2200 “an important step Congress can take to help prevent human trafficking and protect victims as it provides important service provisions that will aid victims.”
The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention, Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2017 makes upgrades to existing legislation, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The new bill is named after Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave in 1818 but escaped to freedom and who spent his time thereafter fighting to abolish the institution of slavery in the U.S.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chair of the House global human rights subcommittee, is the author of the act, with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), ranking member on the committee, being the bill’s lead sponsor.
The proposed legislation would increase funding for existing anti-trafficking programs in the U.S. and abroad by over $500 million.
Grants will be given to educational programs for students and teachers on how to detect and avoid the trafficking of young people for work or sex. Also, the U.S. government is encouraged under the bill to have employees stay at hotels that have taken concrete steps to prevent trafficking on their property.
Funding for victims is important, Rep. Bass insisted, because trafficking victims can be quite young and helpless.
“The majority of underage trafficking victims are girls in foster care, where the average age of a girl entering into sex trafficking is 12 years old,” Bass noted. “One of the major reasons girls cannot escape is because they do not have housing.”
Human trafficking is a global problem that claims almost 21 million victims worldwide, according to the International Labor Organization. Many victims are women and children. Trafficking includes many forms of forced labor and sex slavery.
Fewer than 10,000 trafficking convictions per year are made, according to the State Department. Trafficking spans many industries, such as Indonesians working in slave-like conditions on fishing boats, debt bondage in Afghanistan, and forced prostitution in the U.S.
The International Labor Organization estimates that $150 billion a year in profits in the U.S. alone is the result of forced labor.
“Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said at a Wednesday press conference at the U.S. Capitol. Trafficking is a “national problem,” he added, and requires “a national effort to solve it.”
One chief aim of the the original Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, authored by Rep. Smith, was to introduce an annual report by the State Department where countries would be ranked in a tier system based on how they met minimum standards set by the law for fighting and preventing trafficking.
The State Department had legal tools at its disposal, like sanctions, to push the countries with the worst records on trafficking to improve.
The Trafficking In Persons report is also updated under the new bill. Countries on the Tier 2 Watch List, the level just below the worst offenders on Tier 3, may only stay on the watch list for a limited period of time before falling to the Tier 3 level if they do not improve their record on fighting trafficking.
Also, countries using child soldiers may not partner with the U.S. military until they discontinue the practice, under the new bill.
Bishop Vasquez stated his support for the proposed legislation on Tuesday, and advocated for citizens to contact their member of Congress to support it as well.
The bill’s actions to support victims of trafficking are especially important, he said, as well as those actions which aim to cut trafficking from economic supply chains.
“As Pope Francis has stated: ‘[Trafficking] victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters,’” he said.
“I believe that these exploited individuals deserve the care and support of our communities and our government and that such support will help them heal and become survivors.”
Members of Congress reiterated on Wednesday the importance of the bill funding prevention efforts, helping victims, and strengthening prosecution of traffickers.
In particular, they insisted, Americans must be aware that trafficking occurs in their own communities and on easily-accessible websites.
“If we call ourselves anti-trafficking advocates, we cannot give a free pass to the websites that sell our women and children,” Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) said on Wednesday, pointing to a Washington Post story explaining how the site Backpage.com is “creating and soliciting illegal sex ads.”
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) noted how authorities in her home state, acting undercover, posted a sex ad which “in less than two days” garnered “over 100 responses to purchase these girls for sex.”
“Every human life is of infinite value,” Rep. Smith said on Wednesday. “We have a duty to protect the weakest and most vulnerable from harm.”Read More
Despite the divisive political climate in Washington, Kristi Noem-backed legislation to better fight human trafficking has unanimously sailed through the House.
Noem says its even a big problem in mostly rural South Dakota, as evidenced from recent undercover online ads placed by law enforcement.
"In less than two days, they had over 100 responses to purchase these young girls for sex." Noem related at a Washington news conference to applaud the non-partisan overwhelming passage of the bills.
Noem says the legislation will give law enforcement the tools to go after those who buy and sell children.
The House passd the Noem-backed Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act, reauthorizing resources to fight traffickers and protect victims.
Additionally, the House passed the Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, cosponsored by Noem. This bill would expand eligibility for federal grants to help local law enforcement fight sex trafficking.
Noem says both bills are supported by President Trump and now go to the U.S. Senate.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem, the first South Dakotan in history to serve on the House Ways & Means Committee, today welcomed Scott VanderWal to testify before the committee about tax reform’s impact on small businesses, including farms and ranches.
“Because of the financial risk ag operations incur year after year, farmers and ranchers in South Dakota are often disproportionately impacted by bad tax policy,” said Noem. “As we continue to dive deeper into the tax code and the reforms it requires, South Dakota agriculture needs to have a seat at the table. I am grateful to Scott for sharing his farm’s story and his perspective on the areas of tax reform that are critical for the continued success of South Dakota’s farms, ranches, and small businesses.”
“Congress, and the Committee on Ways and Means in particular, is to be commended for moving forward with comprehensive tax reform designed to spur growth of our nation’s economy,” said VanderWal. “Many of the provisions within the committee’s tax reform blueprint will be beneficial to farmers. While improvements can still be made, the reduced income tax rates, reduced capital gains taxes, immediate expensing for all business inputs except land, and the elimination of the estate tax are critical. I’m grateful to Rep. Noem and the committee for the opportunity to visit about how tax reform will impact America’s small businesses, including farms and ranches.”
According to the independent Tax Foundation, the House GOP Tax Reform Blueprint discussed at today’s hearing would increase the annual income for median households in South Dakota by $4,791.
Included in the proposal is language based on Rep. Noem’s Death Tax Repeal Act, which would permanently repeal the Death Tax. The blueprint also outlines a plan that would lower tax rates for individuals and businesses, simplify the tax code, and reform the IRS.Read More
Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Collin Peterson (D-MN) today reintroduced the bipartisan Wetland Determinations Efficiency and Transparency Act. This legislation aims to enact permanent reforms that make the wetland determination process more efficient, accountable and transparent.
“Part of promoting sustainable conservation practices is ensuring programs and processes work for the producers who use them,” said Noem. “Waiting years before knowing whether a person can improve their land without jeopardizing a wetland or their participation in farm programs is an unacceptable and costly delay. This legislation offers real reforms that can help ensure timely and accurate determinations are made from here on out.”
"Not since the 1990s has there been serious discussion about Swampbuster, at least not with landowners’ and producers' best interests in mind,” said Cramer. “From streamlining wetland certifications to due process reform, this bill is a package of common-sense improvements which will benefit not only landowners and producers, but also the environment. With a new Farm Bill on the horizon, I look forward to working with Kristi and Collin, stakeholders and the entire House Agriculture Committee to help make these reforms reality."
“This bill is a needed step to help ensure producers in our region don't face a determination backlog when trying to make improvements to their land. Making drainage improvements to land can increase yields, improve water quality and reduce the risk of flooding,” Peterson said. “This common sense bill will simply make the process more efficient for producers to stay in compliance with conservation rules.”
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is responsible for determining whether land qualifies as a wetland, and therefore, is protected for conservation purposes according to so-called “Swampbuster” rules. If property is determined to be a wetland, certain changes – such as laying drain tile in a field – are not allowed without a landowner losing the ability to participate in federal Farm Bill programs and crop insurance. In recent years, producers have faced a significant backlog in wetland determination.
More specifically, the Noem-Cramer-Peterson legislation would:
The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously passed two Noem-backed bills that aim to better combat human trafficking in South Dakota and across the country.
“The fight against trafficking will require action from each of us,” said Noem. “We can all do more to educate ourselves and our communities about the red flags associated with trafficking. At the same time, I’ll be working to help carve a pathway for survivors to access housing, tackle new job opportunities and find hope. And with today’s bills, we help equip our law enforcement community with the tools they require to go after those who buy and sell our children. The bottom line is that until our kids are safe, traffickers are put out of business, and those who exploit others can be brought to justice, we have to keep getting folks involved and looking for innovative solutions.”
More specifically, the House passed the Noem-backed H.R.2200, Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Act. This legislation reauthorizes resources that are used to prevent human trafficking, protect victims, and prosecute traffickers.
Additionally, the House passed H.R.2480, Empowering Law Enforcement to Fight Sex Trafficking Demand Act, which Rep. Noem cosponsored as well. This legislation would expand eligibility for Department of Justice grants to allow law enforcement agencies to qualify for federal funding for the development and execution of programs that fight sex trafficking.
Endorsed by President Trump, both bills now go to the Senate for consideration.Read More
On Monday, the United States Cattlemen’s Assn. (USCA) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture consider authorizing the emergency haying of Conservation Reserve Program lands in the drought-stricken regions of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. USDA immediately responded with the authorization, and went beyond the initial ask to also include up to 150 miles beyond the D2 region.
July 15 marks the end of the Primary Nesting Season in Montana. Because of the severe drought conditions, authorization for emergency haying may begin July 16 in North Dakota and South Dakota. Producers who donate their hay as part of a mid-contract management activity are not required to pay the 25% annual payment reduction.
In the letter, USCA President Kenny Graner from Mandan, N.D. noted that emergency grazing is still not immediately available to many producers in these regions due to fencing and watering needs. USCA applauds USDA's recognition of that fact in the announcement. “Making use of these vital grounds while there is still relative feed value left is crucial to keeping herds solvent through the coming winter,” Graner added.
The letter added these regions have experienced up to a 75% reduction in hay production; without an approval for emergency haying, the hay that is left on CRP lands will essentially have no nutritional value by the time haying on these lands does become available.
USCA Secretary Whitney Klasna from Lambert, Mont. noted that in many places, the upland bird population that nests on CRP lands have already left their nests and are on the move, and are more than capable of moving safely out of the way of haying equipment.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R., S.D.) also welcomed the announcement. “While CRP is traditionally not released for haying this early in the season, we cannot wait to act in a year like this,” said Noem. “We already face a severe feed crisis, and if conditions are left to worsen without further relief, livestock producers could lose another essential source of feed. I thank Secretary Perdue for considering the unique circumstances and taking decisive action in offering another option to drought-stricken ranchers.”
On June 23, the USDA announced it would open certain South Dakota CRP areas to grazing. A week later, the USDA announced it would allow certain CRP contract holders to donate the hay harvested for midseason management to livestock producers in drought-stricken counties
In addition to CRP access, ranchers in counties designated as D3 (or D2 for at least eight weeks) on the U.S. Drought Monitor are eligible for support from the Livestock Forage Program.Read More
Following a request from Rep. Kristi Noem and others, the USDA today authorized emergency haying on South Dakota CRP acres that are located in counties with a D2 designation or greater on the U.S. Drought Monitor. The authorization will take effect beginning on July 16. In a letter earlier this summer, Noem urged USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to take this action highlighting the worsening drought conditions.
“While CRP is traditionally not released for haying this early in the season, we cannot wait to act in a year like this,” said Noem. “We already face a severe feed crisis, and if conditions are left to worsen without further relief, livestock producers could lose another essential source of feed. I thank Secretary Perdue for considering the unique circumstances and taking decisive action in offering another option to drought-stricken ranchers.”
On June 23, the USDA announced it would open certain South Dakota CRP areas to grazing. A week later, the USDA announced it would allow certain CRP contract holders to donate the hay harvested for midseason management to livestock producers in drought-stricken counties
In addition to CRP access, ranchers in counties designated as D3 (or D2 for at least eight weeks) on the U.S. Drought Monitor are eligible for support from the Livestock Forage Program, which Noem fought to make permanent during the 2014 Farm Bill negotiations.Read More
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers have filed an official proposal to withdraw the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule due to the concerns of rural America. EPA now begins a replacement rulemaking process re-evaluating the definition of WOTUS in the Clean Water Act and gathering input from stakeholders.
"When the Clean Water and Clean Air Act were passed in the 1970s, there was a belief that the states should be an active partner in making sure that we have clear objectives in air and water and working together to achieve those good outcomes," said Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the EPA. "But there was also this attitude that said we can grow jobs, grow our economy and protect our environment." Pruitt said that is the same approach they are using today and serves as the basis for pulling WOTUS.
Farm groups are hailing the announcement, saying the administration is injecting some much-needed common sense into the nation's environmental policies.
"The signal from the administration clearly is that they understand that the rule is not practical, it is not helpful and they need to not enforce it," said Daren Coppock, CEO of the Agricultural Retailers Association.
Farmers are relieved as they feared that creeks, streams, ditches or even potholes on their farm would be subject to the rule, and they could face penalties if they were not in compliance.
Kevin Scott is a Valley Springs, S.D., farmer and serves on the American Soybean Association board.
"We thought it was an overreach by the federal government when it was proposed, and there were a lot of questions about how that would be implemented," he said. In a news release, the ASA stated this is a step towards regulatory certainty for soybean farmers.
Many lawmakers opposed WOTUS due to the government overreach, but also because of the added cost to the agricultural industry.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said there are a slew of regulations implemented during the Obama administration that need to be repealed due to the burden they place on farmers and ranchers, and WOTUS was on the top of the list.
"In agriculture you get the wrong regulation that comes out of the federal government and it changes our way of life," she said. "Waters of the U.S. was that way."
South Dakota Senator John Thune applauded the move by EPA and the Corps to initiate the formal process to rescind WOTUS.
"I'm glad EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his agency listened to the concerns of rural America and are taking steps to repeal this burdensome rule," Thune said. "WOTUS was just another example of Obama-era government overreach, which places unnecessary burdens on South Dakota's farmers and ranchers."
However, even with EPA rolling back WOTUS, the rule is not dead yet. Colin Woodall, vice president of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said farmers and ranchers need to be reminded there is work to do yet to because the question of who has jurisdiction still remains.
"We're going to have something that comes in to replace it in order to determine what is a navigable water," said Woodall. "We think under this administration, with this Administrator we're going to have a much more productive conversation in order to have a WOTUS replacement that actually works for landowners."
Woodall said NCBA will submit and solicit additional comments from their members to provide to the administration as the rulemaking process continues. Other farm groups are also hopeful they can work with Administrator Pruitt and his team at EPA to build a practical and workable plan to safeguard water quality.
Just over two years ago, while walking on a pier in San Francisco with her dad, Kate Steinle was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant with a criminal past and a record of deportations.
I firmly believe the federal government has limited constitutional responsibilities, but establishing justice and insuring domestic tranquility are among the few authorities that were engraved into our founding document’s first sentence. In recent decades, however, the federal government has fallen through on these responsibilities when it comes to enforcing our immigration laws, and the loss of Kate is just one example of the consequences for that.
Kate’s killer had already been deported five times when he opened fire on July 1, 2015. Certainly, more must be done to secure our border, including building a more robust wall and giving border patrol agents the resources and technologies needed to create a more impenetrable barrier. And without question, the laws already on the books need to be better enforced.
But I also believe our laws could be stronger too.
Shortly before the two-year anniversary of Kate’s murder, I joined the House in passing Kate’s Law, which would significantly toughen the punishment for illegal immigrants who re-enter the country. While I believe we could go even farther with these punishments, Kate’s Law is a good first step.
San Francisco, where Kate’s murder took place, is also one of more than 300 so-called “sanctuary cities” that openly refuse to turn over criminal illegal immigrants to federal law enforcement.
Kate’s killer had seven felony convictions at the time of the murder. Less than four months before Kate’s death, he was turned over to San Francisco authorities for an outstanding drug warrant. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement asked that he be kept in custody until immigration agents could get there, but because San Francisco is a sanctuary city, he was released. This should never have happened. So, in addition to Kate’s Law, I helped pass the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which cracks down on sanctuary cities like San Francisco by withholding valuable federal grants from them.
While the Senate will debate the legislation next, President Trump has already announced his support for both bills.
This is just the beginning. I’ve also cosponsored the SMART Act, which would authorize additional personnel and new technologies to help secure the border, and I’ve backed legislation to help stop the drug trafficking that’s contributed to South Dakota’s drug abuse and violent crime increases.
Kate should have never lost her life on that pier in 2015. Her killer should have never been in this country – let alone, running free within it. We have to be stronger when it comes to enforcing the laws on the books, but we also have a constitutional responsibility to make sure the laws on the books are strong enough to keep our families and communities safe.Read More
Trying to explain the agriculture industry in D.C. is always interesting, but it’s important more people – especially those who can vote on farm policy – understand where their food comes from. They should know the kind of capital farmers bury in the ground each spring in the form of seed and fertilizer with the hope of getting the crop and prices needed to keep their operation going. Lawmakers ought to understand the risk that comes with running a ranch – and the devastating blow a drought can deal to a family who’s been in the business for generations.
It’s been a tough year. Good portions of our commodities – corn, soybeans, wheat and oats – have been rated as poor or very poor already. The drought has devastated pastures, creating a feed shortage that’s forced some ranchers to begin selling off yearlings and cow-calf pairs.
The safety nets provided through the Farm Bill are built for years like this. During the 2014 Farm Bill debates, for instance, I fought hard to preserve the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and make it permanent. The program has now been triggered for several South Dakota counties that have been categorized in extreme drought and I’ve urged the USDA to act quickly to provide these ranchers relief.
Additionally, after a personal request to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, I was grateful to see the USDA open South Dakota CRP acres for grazing in some areas. The agency has also allowed CRP contract holders to donate the hay harvested for mid-contract management purposes to livestock producers in drought-stricken areas. I’m hopeful these changes will give ranchers a few more options.
While fighting for immediate relief in the face of drought, I’m also focused on producing long-term gains for South Dakota’s ranchers.
Around 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside U.S. borders, so gaining access to outside markets is critical.
Most recently, the Trump administration announced the end of a 13-year ban on U.S. beef imports to China. Today, the Chinese beef import market totals around $2.5 billion and I’m hopeful American-grown beef will gain a significant share of that market.
Additionally, in my role as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I’ve put pressure on the U.S. Trade Representative to strengthen agriculture provisions during the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. Since the agreement first took effect in the mid-1990s, South Dakota’s exports to Canada and Mexico have increased 969 percent; I’d like to see that growth continue.
It’s getting increasingly difficult to find lawmakers who understand what life is like for those involved with agriculture. In fact, this Congress, just 26 of the 535 members of Congress claim farming or ranching as an occupation. What’s more, a survey conducted for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy recently received nationwide attention after finding that nearly one in 10 adults believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. You can’t make this stuff up!
It sounds silly, but if people can’t understand how chocolate milk is produced, imagine how difficult it will be to explain the need for a Livestock Forage Program or an ag-friendly NAFTA. We need to take the time to educate folks about where their food comes from. Farm policy is food policy. And if Americans are going to continue to have the world’s safest and most reliable food supply, we need to make sure the farmers and ranchers growing that food have the safety nets and strong markets needed to survive from one generation to the next.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem today joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation that cracks down on sanctuary cities and illegal immigrants who re-enter the country.
“We need to start getting tough on those who break our laws and the cities that openly shield them from federal law enforcement,” said Noem. “Kate Steinle should have never lost her life on that San Francisco pier two years ago. She and others like her were in mind today as we voted to make American communities safer and more secure. While more must be done to strengthen our border, these bills are a critical step forward.”
Named for Kate Steinle, a young woman who was murdered by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record that had been deported five times, H.R.3004, Kate’s Law, would toughen the punishment for illegal immigrants who re-enter the country.
Additionally, Kate’s murder took place in San Francisco, a “sanctuary city.” San Francisco is one of around 300 cities that openly shield criminal illegal immigrants from federal law enforcement. With that in mind, Noem also joined the House in passing H.R.3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which withholds federal grants from cities that don’t cooperate with law enforcement.
The Trump administration has endorsed both bills, which now head to the Senate for consideration.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem today introduced the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act, which would expand the AMBER Alert child abduction warning system on Native American reservations.
“The FBI lists more than 7,000 Native American children as missing today and yet law enforcement on many reservations lack critical access to the AMBER Alert system,” said Noem. “Time is of the essence in these situations. The more people we can engage in searching for a missing child, the better our chances are of a safe recovery. The AMBER Alert system has been instrumental in many cases, but its reach needs to be extended to Indian Country.”
The AMBER Alert in Indian Country Act would clarify that Indian tribes are eligible for Department of Justice (DOJ) grants that help assemble AMBER Alert systems for law enforcement agencies. Additionally, the DOJ currently operates a pilot program that offers AMBER Alert training services to tribes, but this legislation would make the initiative permanent while enhancing oversight.
Earlier this year, more than 100 gathered in Pine Ridge to raise awareness about the number of missing and murdered Native women and girls, which is said to occur at “epidemic” levels. Noem also cosponsored legislation to name May 5 as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for offering greater flexibility to ranchers as the drought worsens across South Dakota. More specifically, the USDA announced it will allow certain CRP contract holders to donate their hay to livestock producers in drought-stricken counties. Additionally, the agency opened CRP lands to grazing for any county that lies within 150 miles of a county already approved for emergency grazing.
“As South Dakota’s drought conditions continue to expand and worsen, ranchers need to be given as much flexibility as possible,” said Noem. “I’ve been in close contact with Secretary Perdue about the conditions and the effects the drought has had on South Dakota producers. I’m hopeful today’s announcement will offer many some added relief.”
According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor data, 90 percent of South Dakota is experiencing drought to some degree, including areas in every county.Read More
1323 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem is a wife, mother, experienced rancher, farmer, and former small business owner. Kristi was born and raised in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota and still lives there today with her husband, Bryon, and their three children, Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.
Kristi learned the value of hard work early in life from her father. He put Kristi, her sister and two brothers to work on the family farm at a young age caring for the cattle and horses and helping with planting and harvest. After graduating from high school, Kristi began attending college at Northern State University in Aberdeen. When her father died unexpectedly in a farming accident, Kristi returned to the family farm and ranch full-time. Her father’s death left a huge absence, so Kristi stepped up and helped stabilize the operation and provided leadership when it was needed most.
Kristi’s work on the farm and ranch didn’t go unnoticed. In 1997 she received the South Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer award and in 2003 she was honored with the South Dakota Young Leader award.
Kristi’s experience as a small business owner shaped her understanding of government and its purpose. Too often, government is inefficient and ineffective, simply getting in the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to create jobs and grow our economy. Realizing this, Kristi decided to get involved to try and make a difference.
Her service includes the South Dakota State Farm Agency State Committee, the Commission for Agriculture in the 21st Century, the South Dakota Soybean Association, and numerous other boards and committees. In the fall of 2006, Kristi was elected as the 6th District Representative to the South Dakota House of Representatives.
Kristi quickly realized she could serve her district, and the State of South Dakota, more effectively in a leadership position. So in her second term she ran for, and won, the position of Assistant Majority Leader in the State House, where she served until 2010.
Kristi was first elected to serve as South Dakota’s lone Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.
While keeping up with her Congressional duties in Washington, D.C. and work with constituents in South Dakota, Kristi continued to take undergraduate courses from South Dakota State University. In December 2011, Kristi graduated from SDSU with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
On November 6, 2012, Kristi was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she continues to serve on the Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee.
Kristi enjoys helping her daughters compete in rodeo and 4-H. She has been a 4-H leader for 14 years. Kristi is also an avid hunter. She particularly enjoys pheasant hunting on the homestead and archery elk with her brothers.
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I attended the activation ceremony for the 200th Bridge Training Team today in Pierre SD. Our SD… https://t.co/eBCmQMrLeH
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Riding to the groundbreaking ceremony for the LBNF - DUNE project at the Sanford lab in Lead SD… https://t.co/9Tqtfr5BgX
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