Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Weekly Column: A Diversity of Issues Impacting Agriculture

2017/03/17

I love what Bridger Gordon, a student from Whitewood, SD, wrote about agriculture: “Agriculture encompasses – and enhances – the entire environment, harnessing soil, water, sunlight to produce food, habitat, employment.” That observation helped Bridger win a national essay contest this year, which came with a $1,000 prize and a trip to Washington, DC, to celebrate National Ag Day on March 21.

Bridger is right.  The impact of agriculture is expansive, which is why America has offered producers a safety net for decades in the Farm Bill.  While the deadline is still more than a year away, work on the next Farm Bill is already underway.  Hearings have begun and I’m working closely with Ag Committee Chairman Conaway to be sure South Dakota producers have the support they need.

The 2014 Farm Bill was one of the most reformed we’ve seen.  It maintained strong risk-management programs, strengthened the livestock disaster program, and invested in ag-related research.  But improvements are needed.  I’m working on legislation, for instance, that would streamline the process for wetland determinations, ensuring producers get a timely response and have an efficient path for appeals. 

We also must make sure commodity programs work as they were intended.  I’ve heard many concerns about how ARC-county was administered, so we’re looking at possible improvements there.

Changes to conservation programs, like CRP, are also being discussed.  During the last general sign up, only 101 acres were accepted into CRP in South Dakota even though producers submitted applications for thousands more. The numbers don’t add up.

In addition to the Farm Bill, I want to make the regulatory environment work better for agriculture.  Already, Congress and President Trump have delayed, suspended, or reversed more than 90 Obama-era regulations, including many impacting rural South Dakota. The president announced steps to roll back the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, for example, just weeks after I sent a letter urging him to do so.

I’ve also been in touch with the administration on the importance of maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which helps get ethanol and biodiesel into gas pumps around the country. This is something the Obama administration often fell short on, but I’m encouraged by the Trump administration’s repeated commitments to the RFS.

We’re also working on comprehensive tax reform. In 2015, we permanently extended Section 179, which many use when purchasing equipment. I’ve also been supportive of a $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel to help decrease our reliance on foreign oil and increase support for American-grown fuels.  More must be done though.

In the House’s blueprint for tax reform, we’re looking to lower tax rates for small businesses, simplify the tax code, and repeal the taxes that make it more difficult to pass an ag operation from one generation to the next (this includes the death tax).

While ag policy is largely dictated by Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a lot of influence too.  I was pleased to see former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue nominated as USDA Secretary.  Sonny and I have hunted pheasants together many times.  I know he understands our industry because he’s lived it.  He was raised on a row-crop farm, became a veterinarian, and at one point even ran a grain and fertilizer business.  I’m looking forward to being able to work with him on South Dakota priorities.

I am incredibly proud to represent so many farmers and ranchers, the very people who – as Bridger Gordon observed – grow the world’s food, preserve our local habitat, and provide employment for more than 120,000 people in South Dakota.  Thank you for all you do.

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Obamacare Repeal/Replace: Read the Bill

2017/03/16

We're delivering on our promises to repeal and replace Obamacare with President Trump's proposed health care reforms. Read More

Weekly Column: Repealing and Replacing Obamacare

2017/03/10

When we talk about healthcare, we’re talking about something that is very personal to people.  It’s why I’ve so often looked for ways to put you, the patient, in control of your own healthcare.  Since Obamacare came into play, however, rising costs, shrinking options and increased bureaucratic involvement has resulted in control being taken away from patients and their doctors.

I’ve heard from thousands of South Dakotans about the burdens placed on them by Obamacare. For instance, a retired teacher from Sisseton saw her premiums increase from $350 to $500 per month while her out-of-pocket threshold increased from $5,000 to $6,000.  Higher costs, worse coverage.

A Sioux Falls small business owner had once tried to cover 60 percent of his employees’ premium costs.  But after Obamacare, premiums rose to the point that this benefit wasn’t affordable anymore.

A family in Haakon County reached out to me after their premiums increased 200 percent. A family in Milbank saw costs for their son’s insurance rise from $89 per month to more than $300.  A woman in Rosholt pays almost $250 more per month for a plan that doesn’t include the benefits she used most often. 

While I could go on and on with stories like this, I understand others have felt greater security because of Obamacare’s provisions.  For years, we have fought to offer relief to those hurt worst by Obamacare. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could have led to rationed care for seniors, was gutted.  The 1099 mandate was eliminated and some of the most burdensome taxes were delayed.  Even after the tweaks, however, Obamacare remains beyond repair.

Earlier this month, House Republicans put forward a new vision for health care: one that offers Americans from all walks of life the freedom and flexibility to get the health coverage their family needs.  This legislation came about after years of debate and the final stages were completed in close collaboration with President Trump and his administration.

The legislation eliminates Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.  It abolishes 14 Obamacare taxes that take $1 trillion from American taxpayers every decade.  This includes taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices as well as the Health Insurance Tax, based on legislation I authored, which could cost the average family nearly $5,000 over the next decade if it isn’t repealed.

The flawed Obamacare subsidies left many behind, so this legislation replaces them with monthly tax credits for low- and middle-income Americans.  These credits range from $2,000 to $14,000 per year, depending on a person’s age and family size.  You will finally be able to choose the plan that’s right for you – even if that means cheaper catastrophic coverage, which is something Obamacare didn’t allow you to do.  In addition to the tax credit, states will receive new resources to help people out and Health Savings Accounts will be enhanced and expanded to grant you even more flexibility.

At the same time, health insurers still won’t be able to deny coverage or charge more money based on pre-existing conditions and young people will be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26.

There is a lot packed into this legislation, so I encourage you to read through it yourself at www.ReadTheBill.gop

Shortly after the language was released, the House Ways and Means Committee, which I’m a member of, had the opportunity to go through section-by-section and debate any edits folks thought should be made to the part of the bill that fell under our jurisdiction.  Once all the committees sign off, the full House of Representatives will have the opportunity to debate and vote on the bill.  We expect this process to play out over the next few weeks.

As I mentioned before, I understand healthcare is very personal and it’s for this reason I believe you should be in control of it. That’s ultimately why I’m fighting through this process to finally repeal and replace Obamacare. Read More

NOEM: Delivering on a Promise to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

2017/03/07

Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement upon the release of the American Health Care Act:

“In the years since Obamacare was first passed, South Dakotans have called for its repeal and replacement. In the meantime, they’ve seen premiums skyrocket, deductibles soar, and choices become limited.   In gutting the Independent Payment Advisory Board and delaying some of the most burdensome elements, we were able to offer a degree of relief, but Obamacare is fundamentally beyond repair.  Tonight, we are taking the most significant steps to date in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.  There is still plenty of public debate that must happen and I look forward to hearing South Dakotans’ feedback, but this is a critical step toward healthcare that is more affordable and accessible to all.”

The American Health Care Act dismantles Obamacare’s onerous mandates and taxes (including Rep. Noem’s Health Insurance Tax repeal), expands and enhances the use of Health Savings Accounts, and offers individuals and families a monthly refundable tax credit to help purchase health insurance, among other things.  Additionally, the proposal continues protections for those with pre-existing conditions, allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until 26, and maintains the policy of no lifetime caps.  To view a full copy of the bill, please visit www.ReadTheBill.gop.

The House Ways and Means Committee, of which Rep. Noem is a member, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have jurisdiction over the legislation.  The committees are expected to meet later this week to formally consider the bills.

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Ag committees begin work on new farm bill

2017/03/06

The U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees have started the process of writing a new farm bill.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first farm bill field hearing Feb. 23 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. Farmers testifying at the hearing talked about what they think is working and what is not from the 2014 legislation. They also emphasized the need for funding levels to be maintained or increased in the 2018 farm bill due to lower grain prices and net farm income.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., serves on the committee. He said members aren't looking at wholesale changes in the new farm legislation, but they have identified some areas that need tweaking. The goal for lawmakers is to protect farmers facing low commodity prices.

"The commodity title of the bill is really important and making sure we've got a safety net that works," he said.

That means if the Agriculture Risk Coverage program is maintained, the payment discrepancy between counties must be fixed.

"There were differences between counties that was concerning to us, and so how some of the yields had been calculated and the formulas that went into that is something that we would, you know, definitely take a look at," said Keith Alverson, who farms near Chester, S.D., and is immediate past president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she has had frequent conversations with House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway about changes in the next farm program with ARC topping the list.

"We're looking at the ARC program. The county-by-county yields, we're not sure that should stay. What really helps producers, those are the kind of changes we want to make to commodity programs," she said.

Thune said the safety net also includes permanent disaster programs for livestock, such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and Livestock Forage Programs.

Since 2012, western South Dakota has received over $265 million in payments under the permanent disaster title in the current farm bill, he said.

While crop insurance is not a component of the farm bill, it will be negotiated in tandem with the measure. Noem said it's a priority because it's the most important risk management tool available for grain farmers.

"We need to continue to look into making sure that we have crop insurance, that that risk management tool is there, it's secure," she said.

The committees also are looking at enhancing water quality and conservation programs.

"We need more conservation acres. We're all very disappointed in what happened in CRP here in South Dakota, but we need to prioritize that and make sure that that's fully funded," Noem said.

Thune agrees there will be more emphasis on conservation in this bill and he is offering his own program called the Soil Health and Income Protection Program or SHIPP.

"This would give producers an opportunity to take the poorest producing land that they have and put it into a program for a shorter amount of time, get rental payments on that," he said.

He said payments would be figured at half of the Conservation Reserve Program rental rate. Farmers would have to plant a perennial crop on the land, but would be able to hay and graze those acres.

Another anticipated change in the 2018 farm bill is the Margin Protection Program after many dairy producers failed to receive payments when the milk price dropped below breakeven levels. The reason is payments were based on average margins, which they say is a flawed formula that needs to be revamped or thrown out in the next program.

"That's definitely going to be reworked. Too many senators, particularly on the agriculture committee, know that their dairy farmers aren't getting anything out of the program," said Chris Clayton, DTN ag policy editor. "There may be a whole new kind of different program brought up for dairy. The problem is then how much is that new program going to cost every year?"

In fact, the big key for the entire farm bill is finding budget dollars to keep even current funding levels.

"The farm bill is a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so what ends up happening there is critical," Clayton said.

Congress will be going through the process of budget reconciliation and looking for savings that will determine the baseline funding for the farm legislation.

"You know if ... the committees can actually show some way, shape or form of reduction in the cost over a 10-year period that's a more likelihood they can get a bill done," Clayton said.

The Senate Ag Committee will hold its next farm bill field hearing in Michigan this month.

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Weekly Column: 21st Century Cures

2017/03/03

Almost two years ago, my nephew Gage learned he had Type 1 diabetes, a disease his older brother Hunter had been diagnosed with a few years before.  Shortly after the family got home from the hospital in Sioux Falls where Gage had learned to give himself shots and test his blood sugar levels, he was talking with his mom about what the diagnosis would mean.  At one point, he told her, “If God is going to heal me or Hunter, I hope he heals Hunter.  He’s had diabetes a lot longer than me.” 

What an incredible display of brotherly love!  Just a few months ago, another one of my nephews, Mitchell, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as well.  It’s my hope and prayer that one day, because of the incredible research currently underway, we’ll be able to tell Hunter, Gage, Mitchell and young people like them that there is a cure; they can be healed.

On February 28, in observance of the 10th annual RARE Disease Day, people around the world turned their attention to diseases like this.  Throughout the day and the week that surrounded it, my team and I met with many South Dakotans whose families were forever changed by rare conditions. 

I spoke with one father, for instance, whose son had both Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease, which our family has learned is a somewhat common combination as they are both autoimmune diseases (one of our nephews also has Celiac disease). The whole family has now gone gluten free to accommodate his son’s Celiac disease and with new technological advancements, he can monitor his son’s blood sugar levels almost minute-by-minute through an app on his phone.

We also met with two inspiring moms of children with cystic fibrosis and a father whose son has been living with a severe genetic disorder.  The disorder causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges, and various physical characteristics. Ongoing research offers more insight into how to manage life with the disease, but there is currently no cure.

While the syndromes and diseases take many different forms, I am consistently inspired by the resilience of those who live with these diagnoses and the caregivers who offer support.  It was with these families in mind that I helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act last year.  The bill was also approved by the Senate and eventually signed into law by the president.

The 21st Century Cures Act provided new support for research and biomedical innovation, specifically incentivizing the development of drugs and medical countermeasures for pediatric diseases.  Additionally, the legislation removed regulatory burdens that slow the pace of scientific advancement, modernized clinical trials, put patients at the heart of the regulatory review process, and streamlined processes that made it difficult to translate discoveries into FDA-approved treatments.

For more than a century, the United States has been on the leading edge of medical innovation and I’m committed to protecting this tradition for a century more.  With the 21st Century Cures Act now in place, I’m hopeful we’ve cleared a space where innovation can thrive and new forms of healing can take hold.

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Emission standards opposed by SD delegation to be cut by Trump

2017/03/02

Another presidential executive order could be the beginning of the end for a carbon-cutting initiative criticized by South Dakotans in Congress.

President Donald Trump is expected to target the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, supported by former President Barack Obama, with a new executive order that could be signed as early as next week, according to a Reuters report.

The plan was announced in August 2015 and was intended to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by setting long-term emissions goals for every state. The plan was stayed on Feb. 9 by the Supreme Court pending judicial review, but Trump's order could send the plan back to the EPA, ending its legal defense, Reuters reported.

U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem declined to comment on the order until it is signed, but all expressed criticism of the Clean Power Plan.

"I had serious concerns with the Obama administration's effort to shutter reliable and affordable coal generation," Thune said. "I strongly oppose this backdoor national energy tax and look forward to advancing a truly all-the-above energy approach."

Rounds also supports an "all of the above" approach that preserves the country's natural resources.

"In his joint address to Congress, President Trump made it clear that he will work to roll back overly burdensome regulations so that our economy can grow and prosper, which is an agenda I support," Round said.

The order is also expected to bring an end to a temporary federal coal mining ban on federal coal leases, imposed by the Obama administration in January, Reuters said.

Don Kelley, a board member for Dakota Rural Action, opposed the upcoming executive order. He said pollution from coal power plants have increased mercury contamination in South Dakota waters and have accentuated medical conditions, like asthma.

Kelley said South Dakota is already behind the curve on the adoption of solar energy, and while some utility companies have installed solar farms, making cuts to the Clean Power Plan could keep the state from catching up.

"Our state has kind of sat back and said, 'There is no rush, and there's no need to sort of help people who want to use renewable energy,' " Kelley said.

Noem said preservation of the land is important, but she believes the Clean Power Plan would increase energy costs. She said South Dakotans making $50,000 per year already spend one-fifth of their after-tax income on energy costs, double the national average.

"We all want to preserve our environment for future generations, and in a place like South Dakota, where we largely make our living off the land, that is especially true," Noem said. "But the preservation should be done through innovation, not regulation."

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SD delegation praises Trump plan to dismantle WOTUS

2017/02/28

South Dakota's congressional delegation praised the president's newest executive order, which will keep the federal government from regulating some small bodies of water.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Tuesday to begin rolling back the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule of the Clean Water Act, which would have given federal agencies authority over small bodies of inland water.

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem expressed support for the decision, calling WOTUS "one of the largest federal land grabs" in U.S. history.

"Today's actions are a step toward reversing the rule's impact and lifting another regulatory burden from the shoulders of hardworking farmers, ranchers and homeowners," Noem said.

According to a statement from Rounds' office, WOTUS, which was signed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May 2015, would have given the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and EPA control of man-made water management systems, farm ponds, drainage ditches and any other water deemed to have a significant nexus to downstream water. A federal appellate court suspended the rule's nationwide implementation in 2015.

Rounds said WOTUS would have required farmers, ranchers and landowners to spend hours filling out paperwork before conducting agricultural activities or spraying weeds.

"I applaud President Trump for taking steps to undo this necessary, misguided overreach," Rounds said.

At the signing, Trump called the rule a disaster for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers across the country after federal officials misinterpreted their authority over navigable waters.

"The EPA's regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands, and regulations and permits started treating our wonderful small farmers and small businesses as if they were a major industrial polluter. They treated them horribly. Horribly," Trump said in the Roosevelt Room, according to the White House website.

Trump said a Wyoming rancher was fined $37,000 a day for digging a watering hole for his cattle, and he directed the EPA to take action to change the rule.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, too, expressed his support on Twitter, saying he was happy to keep unnecessary regulations out of South Dakota.

"Happy to hear @POTUS took an important first step in ditching WOTUS and keeping the federal government out of South Dakotans' backyards," Thune said.

With the order, the USACE and EPA were instructed to formally reconsider the rule, but it is unclear when changes could be implemented.

Environmental groups, however, were quick to denounce Trump's action.

"Trump's decision today is a path to dirtier water and more toxic disasters," said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a press release.

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NOEM: Trump Action, a Step toward Ditching WOTUS Rule

2017/02/28

Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded President Trump’s Executive Order to begin pulling back the controversial, Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

“The Obama administration attempted to pull off one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history when it finalized the Waters of the U.S. rule,” said Noem.  “Today’s actions are a step toward reversing the rule’s impact and lifting another regulatory burden from the shoulders of hardworking farmers, ranchers, and homeowners.  As the administration’s efforts move forward, I will continue to work on the legislative front to reverse this Obama-era regulation and protect South Dakotans from the costly impacts it could have.”

As finalized by the Obama administration, the WOTUS rule could greatly expand the federal government’s control over small and seasonal bodies of water throughout South Dakota and the country.  Estimates show that if a landowner falls out of compliance, penalties could cost more than $30,000 per violation, per day.

In May 2015, Noem helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass the bipartisan H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would send the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers back to the drawing board on the WOTUS rule.  Months later, a federal appellate court temporarily suspended the nationwide implementation of the WOTUS rule, a suspension that holds today.

In January 2016, Noem joined the House in passing legislation disapproving the rule.  President Obama later vetoed the bill.  Watch Noem discuss this legislation.

In February 2017, Noem joined more than 35 Members of Congress in a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to take action to repeal WOTUS.

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Weekly Column: Securing the Blessings of Liberty

2017/02/24

There is no role more directly within the federal government’s jurisdiction than ensuring our nation’s security. Our Constitution was written to assure that: “We the People … in Order to … insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence … and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution….”

Today, radical Islamic terrorists seek to pose an existential threat to our democracy and the Blessings of Liberty we celebrate. ISIL, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others have sought to expand their physical boundaries and the reach of their violent ideology. These groups are convicted to destroy both our people and our values in the most gruesome and brutal manner possible.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower “kept the peace by using our own strength” – a sentiment shared by President Ronald Reagan, whose foreign policy was summed up with the familiar phrase: “Peace through strength.” I believe the same approach is needed today.

The United States has the world’s most powerful and skilled military. Our men and women in uniform are second to none. But President Obama whittled away at our military and too often muddled its mission, even claiming that climate change could pose a graver threat to our national security than terrorism. Military equipment must be upgraded. Training and new technologies must be invested in. Our readiness must be improved, not only to prepare for a major crisis, but to let our enemies know we’re ready to respond to a major crisis.

In his 1983 State of the Union address, President Reagan explained: “Our strategy for peace with freedom must be based on strength – economic strength and military strength.” America’s economy has endured serious blows throughout the last decade. Jobs have been shipped overseas. Taxes and regulations have made it difficult to start a business – let alone, expand one. We have to get our economy going again, something I’m eager to work with President Trump to accomplish.

At the same time, it’s necessary we weaken the economic backing of terror groups. One of the worst outcomes of President Obama’s deal with Iran was that it flooded Iran with cash. Iran, one of the world’s largest state sponsors of terrorism, received almost immediate sanctions relief, producing an economic impact of as much as $150 billion. I’m optimistic we’ll be able to work with the Trump administration to cut off terrorism’s economic engines.

Additionally, we have a constitutional responsibility to “insure domestic Tranquility.” Too much blood has been shed by terrorists on American soil. Still, our border remains porous and our immigration policies inadequate. I have participated in classified briefings on this subject. I’ve visited countries, like Greece and Egypt, which sit on the front lines of the refugee crisis. I can tell you definitively: our current vetting processes are inadequate.

We often rely on government-to-government relationships to conduct immigration vetting, but in countries like Syria where the government has collapsed, it’s nearly impossible to verify that someone is who they say they are. This is why I support putting a temporary pause on accepting refugees and other immigrants from terrorist-held areas until the administration can certify those coming into our country do not present a threat. I’ve also backed legislation empowering state governors to deny refugee resettlements in their states.

My number one priority is the safety and security of the American people. That’s what our Constitution requires of me and what ultimately will secure the Blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our Posterity.

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Noem Updates U.S. Attorney General on SD Violent Crime Wave, Urges Collaboration and Action

2017/02/21

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rep. Kristi Noem today updated the administration on a recent uptick in violent crimes committed in South Dakota and urged the agency to redouble its efforts to combat intrastate drug trafficking, among other things. Noem also requested a meeting with the Attorney General to discuss the situation and opportunities for collaboration.

“Levels of violent crime in South Dakota have risen steadily over at least the past decade,” wrote Noem. “According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the rate of violent crimes in South Dakota nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015. The detailed statistics are even more shocking. The South Dakota State Attorney General’s 2015 crime report shows crime was up across the board from 2014: drug arrests increased more than 22 percent, rapes increased 11 percent, and murders increased 35 percent.”

Noem continued: “I have met with numerous state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers during my tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. I fully support their work on the front lines. To supplement their work, I would like to meet with you as you evaluate the nation’s law enforcement needs so we can discuss the situation in South Dakota and other rural states. Additionally, I urge you to redouble your agency’s efforts to combat intrastate drug trafficking, gang proliferation, as well as the violent crime that all too often follows.”

--

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Attorney General Sessions,

Congratulations on your recent confirmation as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer. I look forward to working with you to ensure the safety and security of the constituents I represent in South Dakota. As you begin your work, I write today to make you aware of an urgent matter in my state.

In his inaugural address, President Trump lamented the decaying state of public safety in our country, a theme he highlighted throughout his campaign. However, while the President has focused primarily on crime in America’s large cities, it is critical that we address issues in rural areas, as well. South Dakota’s small towns, for example, have traditionally been safe places in which to live and raise a family, but in recent years, our communities have been increasingly threatened by a precipitous rise in violent crime.

Levels of violent crime in South Dakota have risen steadily over at least the past decade. According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the rate of violent crimes in South Dakota more than doubled between 2005[1] and 2015.[2] The detailed statistics are even more shocking. The South Dakota State Attorney General’s 2015 crime report shows increases in violent crime from 2014: drug arrests increased more than 22 percent, rapes increased 11 percent, and murders increased 35 percent.[3] The increase in murders followed a 66.7 percent increase between 2013 and 2014.[4] Of course, this disturbing trend did not occur in a vacuum, and law enforcement officials generally blame the increase in violent crime on a combination of illegal drugs and gang activity.

Many states are experiencing severe opioid crises that often begin with prescription drug addiction and result in heroin use. South Dakota is no different, but our state has also long been plagued by methamphetamine addiction.[5] Sioux Falls police are arresting more and more people each year for meth possession.[6] Drug cases in the city have increased by nearly 1,000 in the past four years, necessitating additional Drug Task Force personnel.[7] Cheap, highly addictive meth has been flowing into South Dakota from neighboring states. Drug interdiction is increasingly important, given that law enforcement officials have found that the drug is typically no longer produced locally in large labs. Rather, it is being produced in small quantities or being trafficked into the state by Mexican drug cartels.[8] South Dakota officials are working to combat this problem, with Governor Daugaard recently announcing the formation of a Drug Interdiction Task Force.[9]

Where drugs go, violence follows. According to recent news reports, more than half of the property crimes reported to Sioux Falls police are related to meth.[10] After 2015 became a “record year for murder” in Rapid City, the city’s police chief explained that most of the cases “have a direct nexus to meth.”[11] Sadly, 2017 does not seem like it will break the trend, as police are already investigating three homicides, due to “the increased use of methamphetamine.”[12] Aggravated assaults are also on the rise. While the increase is partly due to a change in the legal definition of aggravated assault and population growth, a recent report found an increase even after accounting for the changes.[13]

The rise in violent crime has led to Sioux Falls, the largest city in South Dakota, being given the dubious distinction of having higher violent crime rates than other similarly-sized cities in the region, including Omaha, NE, Lincoln, NE, and Fargo, ND.[14] This is echoed in recent increases in sexual violence. A recent news report based on the most recent FBI statistics found that in 2015, Sioux Falls had a per capita rate of forced rape that was 65 percent higher than similar cities. [15] Sadly, that statistic is reflected across the state, as South Dakota had the second highest rate of rapes per capita in the entire country.[16]

Drugs and related crime are also affecting South Dakota’s rural tribal communities. Sadly, substance abuse has long been a critical problem for Indian tribes in South Dakota, whose communities are home to some of the most vulnerable populations in the entire country. Substance abuse infiltrates and damages these communities and families, resulting in a heartbreaking cycle of broken homes, suicide, and increasing violence. New 2016 FBI data shows the homicide rate is nearly double the 2015 level on the Pine Ridge Reservation, home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. FBI officials linked the uptick to “an increase in illegal drug use, particularly methamphetamine.”[17]

As in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, it is likely that most of the meth found on South Dakota’s Indian reservations is not produced there; one 2006 report estimated that more than 70 percent of meth on Indian reservations is now smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.[18] Indeed, it is no secret that drug cartels have long targeted reservations.[19] That cartel presence and the high rates of substance abuse are a deadly combination that has inevitably led to violence. A 2009 report documented at least 39 gangs on the Pine Ridge Reservation alone, adding that the gangs “are being blamed for an increase in vandalism, theft, violence and fear.”[20] Former Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele said of one recent incident, “If a person sits down here, he can connect the dots. It’s several incidents of our tribal members being murdered. And it’s all related to drugs.”[21]

Tribes are doing all they can to break the trend of substance abuse and violence, but they face an uphill battle. Then-President Steele found the drugs and gang violence on Pine Ridge so pressing that he declared a state of emergency on the Reservation, citing a need for additional law enforcement officers.[22] In 2015, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council voted to dis-enroll and banish any tribal member convicted of manufacturing or dealing drugs. The resolution said in part, “methamphetamine has caused an increase in murder, suicides, assaults, burglary, vandalism, child abuse, child neglect among many other injustices…”[23] To make matters worse, large reservations, especially those in the Great Plains, are notoriously difficult for law enforcement to patrol due to their massive size. According to the National Congress of American Indians, many tribes are only able to field two or three officers each shift, each patrolling several hundred miles.[24]

I have met with numerous state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers during my tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives. I fully support their work on the front lines. To supplement their work, I would like to meet with you as you evaluate the nation’s law enforcement needs so we can discuss the situation in South Dakota and other rural states. Additionally, I urge you to redouble your agency’s efforts to combat drug trafficking, gang proliferation, as well as the violent crime that all too often follows.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter. I stand ready to work with you. If I can be of any help, please contact my staff at 202-225-2801.

Sincerely,

KRISTI NOEM
Member of Congress


[1] Crime in the U.S., 2005. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Available at: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2005.

[2] Crime in the U.S., 2015. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Available at: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/table-5.  

[3] Crime in South Dakota 2015. Office of the Attorney General. Available at: http://atg.sd.gov/docs/SAC_2015_CSD.pdf.

[4] Crime in South Dakota 2014. Office of the Attorney General. Available at: http://atg.sd.gov/docs/SAC_2014_CSD.pdf.

[5] “Meth and heroin use rising in SD.” KSFY, April 6, 2016. Available at: http://www.ksfy.com/home/headlines/Meth-and-heroin-use-rising-in-SD-374845921.html. 

[6] “Sioux Falls police chief blames drugs for increase in crime.” Mitchell Daily Republic, Jan. 19, 2017. Available at: http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/news/4202381-sioux-falls-police-chief-blames-drugs-increase-crime.

[7] Id.

[8] [8] “Police chief: Meth cause of violent crime increase in SD.” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Sept. 28, 2016. Available at: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2016/09/28/police-chief-meth-cause-violent-crime-increase-sd/91222030/.

[9] Daugaard Discusses Meth Epidemic, IM 22 in Sioux Falls. KDLT News, January 16, 2017. Available at: http://www.kdlt.com/2017/01/16/daugaard-discusses-meth-epidemic-im-22-sioux-falls/.

[10] “Police chief: Meth cause of violent crime increase in SD.”

[11] Id.

[12] “3 homicide investigations in Rapid City in new year.” Rapid City Journal, Feb. 3, 2017. Available at: http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/state-and-regional/homicide-investigations-in-rapid-city-in-new-year/article_e9f475d4-6ba0-5e67-8b2f-48e17d684db7.html.

[13] “Is South Dakota more violent than it’s ever been?” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Jan. 13, 2017. Available at: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/crime/2017/01/13/south-dakota-more-violent-than-s-ever-been/96456896/.

[14] Id.

[15] “South Dakota ranks 2nd highest per capita for rapes. KSFY, Feb. 14, 2017. Available at: http://www.ksfy.com/content/news/413788893.html. 

[16] Id.

[17] “Homicides on Pine Ridge reservation nearly doubled in 2016.” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Feb. 12, 2017. Available at: http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2017/02/12/homicides-pine-ridge-reservation-nearly-doubled/97826540/.

[18] “Methamphetamine in Indian Country: An American Problem Uniquely Affecting Indian Country.” National Congress of American Indians. Available at: https://www.justice.gov/archive/tribal/docs/fv_tjs/session_1/session1_presentations/Meth_Overview.pdf.

[19] Id. 

[20] “Gang Violence Grows on an Indian Reservation.” The New York Times, Dec. 13, 2009. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/us/14gangs.html.

[21] “Pine Ridge officials look to curb drug-related violent crime after recent shooting.” KEVN Black Hills Fox, Oct. 18, 2016. Available at: http://www.blackhillsfox.com/content/news/Pine-Ridge-officials-look-to-curb-drug-related-violent-crime-on-reservation-397524801.html. 

[22] “Officials declare state of emergency on Pine Ridge.” KEVN Black Hills Fox, May 12, 2016. Available at: http://www.blackhillsfox.com/home/headlines/Officials-declare-state-of-emergency-on-Pine-Ridge-379280551.html.

[23] “Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Votes to Banish Drug Dealers for Life from Tribe.” Native News Online, July 9, 2015. Available at: http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/cheyenne-river-sioux-tribal-council-votes-to-banish-drug-dealers-for-life-from-tribe/.

[24] “Methamphetamine in Indian Country: An American Problem Uniquely Affecting Indian Country.” 

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Rep. Kristi Noem to pursue tax overhaul, work on farm bill

2017/02/21

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem says Republicans are glad to have a partner in the White House after years of working as a check against former President Barack Obama.

Noem gave speeches Tuesday to the South Dakota House and Senate. She says much of Obama's legacy was "built on sand" and can be quickly undone with executive orders.

The state's lone U.S. representative says that over the next two year she wants to pursue an overhaul of the tax system, work on the next farm bill and change government programs to help people get off of them.

Noem, who plans to run for governor in 2018, told legislators that she's excited to come back to South Dakota. Attorney General Marty Jackley is also preparing to run for governor.

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Local law enforcement hope federal government will assist rural drug problem

2017/02/21

The rate of violent crime in South Dakota has nearly doubled over the last 10 years, and now this disturbing trend is getting some national attention.

In a letter to brand-new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem asks the Department of Justice to step up efforts to combat crime in the nation's more rural areas.

Congresswoman Noem blames the uptick in violent crime on increased drug trafficking through the state, especially when it comes to meth.

Now she's hoping to get the federal government to join an effort already being implemented across the state to stop the spread of this dangerous drug.

"People are getting robbed because of it, people are dying because of it," said Sheriff Mike Milstead with Minnehaha County.

Milstead says it's been a challenging time for local law enforcement.

"In Minnehaha County, I had 10 murders last year and two the year before," said Milstead.

Milstead says in a high volume of those cases, drugs are involved.

"People are dangerous when they are addicted to some of those drugs. It doesn't account for all of our crimes, but it certainly accounts for part of it," he said.

In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rep. Kristi Noem asks to meet with him to figure out a plan to fight the drug epidemic in South Dakota and other rural states.

"Will her voice be heard, I hope so. Bringing from a rural perspective, that we are really struggling here to is not a bad thing," added Milstead.

Milstead says he's happy state leaders are taking action and realizing they need help.

"Opening the eyes to people who may think that South Dakota and states like us don't suffer from this like other parts of the country, it's probably a good thing to bring that to his attention," stated Milstead.

It's the attention he believes the state needs to help law enforcement take on the battle.

"Treatment side available and affordable treatment opportunities who have loved ones that are addicted," he said.

In 2016 alone, Sioux Falls Police confiscated more than half-a-million dollars worth of the drug off the streets.

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Noem asks attorney general to discuss rising violent crime

2017/02/21

Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem is asking new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss rising violent crime in South Dakota.

Noem sent a letter Tuesday to Sessions requesting a meeting and urging the Justice Department to redouble its efforts to fight drug trafficking, gang proliferation and the "violent crime that all too often follows."

She writes that violent crime levels have grown steadily in South Dakota over at least the last decade.

Noem writes that President Donald Trump has lamented the "decaying state" of public safety in America with a focus on big cities. But she writes it's critical that officials also address issues in rural areas.

The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Noem plans to run for governor in 2018.

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Noem requests AG meeting on violent crime wave in South Dakota

2017/02/21

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem is requesting a meeting with the U.S. Justice Department, urging them to discuss the rising violent crime in South Dakota.

Noem is asking the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to meet with her about the crime levels that have grown steadily over the last decade.

According to the South Dakota State Attorney General's 2015 report, drug arrests increased 22 percent, rapes increased 11 percent, and murders increased 35 percent. In Rapid City, the Police Chief Karl Jegeris says almost all violent crime is linked to methamphetamine.

"Almost all of our violent crime in one way or another has a connection to methamphetamine use or distribution. In the first two years of me being in this position, our department had four officer-involved shootings, and three of the four had a direct connection to methamphetamine use within our city. So, that's just a measure of ultimate violence. When we're getting into situations where we're having to use legal force to ensure a safe community, that stat in and of itself, I think says a lot,” says Jegeris.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared that South Dakota has an epidemic level of meth use. With the passing of SB 70, those on probation or parole will have immediate sanctions, including incarceration if caught under the influence of drugs, particularly meth.

Jegeris says South Dakota needs to strengthen their bonds with the tribal nations that are struggling with staffing and lack of funding. With 17 murders on the Pine Ridge Reservation last year, and the correlation with methamphetamine, Jegeris is calling for action.

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Weekly Column: Grain Bin Safety

2017/02/17

My dad was one of those people who just got things done.  He worked hard and he worked fast.  It’s a skill set many farmers share, but that day, I wish he would have slowed down a bit.  He had gone into a grain bin and things went wrong.  By the time I got there, neighbors were digging through piles of corn from the bin that was torn apart trying to find him.  When they did, CPR started immediately.   Despite the doctors working to save him for hours, we lost him that day and in that instant, my whole world changed.

In 2014, more than three dozen farmers were trapped in grain bins, resulting in at least 17 deaths.  In most cases, it took only seconds for the producer to become engulfed – and getting out without assistance at this point is nearly impossible.  Still, there are things that can be done to help prevent accidents like this and improve the chance of a successful recovery if something does go wrong.

Every year, the last week of February is reserved as Grain Bin Safety Week.  It’s a good opportunity to take a look at some of your operation’s practices to see if there’s something more you could do to improve the safety of your farm.

A few years back, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association offered a few tips that I wanted to share today.  First, farmers often work alone.  They recommend that when cleaning out your grain bins, use a buddy system.

Additionally, especially after a wet harvest, don’t forget to wear a mask.  This is going to help make sure you don’t breathe in harmful molds.

Be aware that the grain in the bin might not be as it appears.  Crusting can deceive you and lead to dangerous falls, even entrapment.

As an added measure of precaution, I encourage you to touch base with your local first responders.  They can seek out training on rescue techniques and specialized equipment.

Finally, I’d add, take the time to educate your kids about safe practices on the farm.  Raising our kids on the ranch has been one of the best parenting decisions we’ve made.  I’m proud of the work ethic they’ve earned – the commonsense problem solving skills they’ve developed – the understanding they’ve gotten about how our food is grown.  But I’m also very much aware of how dangerous it can be. 

Farming is risky enough. Please take time this week to evaluate your current grain bin safety procedures.  It’s worth the attention. 

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U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

2017/02/16

The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s "eleventh hour" HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions.

Title X money comes from the government to fund "family planning services," but technically not abortion.

Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X funding. Under this rule, states must give Planned Parenthood or abortionists Title X grants and may not choose to redirect those funds to comprehensive healthcare clinics.

Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider. It commits more than 300,000 abortions annually.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins called the Obama HHS regulation a "backdoor handout for the abortion industry."

But thanks to the Congressional Review Act, Congress may overturn such agency regulations within 60 legislative days. Only 51 Senate votes are needed now that it has passed the House.

Rep. Diane Black, R-TN, introduced H.J. Res. 43 to overturn what pro-life groups call the Obama administration's "parting gift" to Planned Parenthood.

On February 14, Planned Parenthood sent an email to supporters warning that if the House voted to overturn Obama's HHS rule, it would be a "devastating attack" for them. It will "embolden extremist politicians to block" funding to "a health center just because that center also provides safe, legal abortion," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote.

Black said letting states have the right to not give Title X grants to groups that commit abortions "shouldn't be" a partisan issue.

"You don’t have to be [pro-life] to support this resolution," said Black. "You just have to support the 10th Amendment."

"We are not voting to defund Planned Parenthood in any way, shape, or form," she continued. "We are not voting to cut Title X funding. And we are not voting to restrict abortion rights."

"Without this bill, states would be forced to fund the abortion industry by federal bureaucrats," said Rep. Luke Messer, R-IN.

Two abortion-supporting Democratic Congresswomen used language about protecting the vulnerable when arguing in favor of the pro-abortion rule.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, said that allowing states to opt out of funding Planned Parenthood through Title X would harm the "neediest Americans."

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-CO, called H.J. Res. 43 "another bill that threatens access to family planning care for millions of our most vulnerable citizens."

"Just this afternoon, I read a quote. And here’s what it said: 'Patients and doctors should be making the big decisions, not government bureaucrats.' Who said this?"asked DeGette. "Margaret Sanger? No. Cecile Richards? No. Hillary Clinton? No. The person who said this this afternoon is the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. I couldn’t agree with him any more."

Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood. She supported racism and eugenics. 

"It's cost-effective for all of us" to support liberal Title X policies "because it saves public money on prenatal, maternity, and newborn care. And it has worked to decrease teenage and unintended pregnancies," said Rep. Kathy Caster, D-FL. "In Florida, in 2014 alone, over 160,000 were counseled through non-profit agencies and community health centers and over 38,000 unintended pregnancies were prevented, which helped prevent about 18,000 unintended births."

Male Democrats implied they speak for women and women's health during the debate.

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-MI, complained, "Republicans are again focused on attacking women’s health."

"The women of America are watching ... the mothers and daughters, Mr. President, are watching," said Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA.

Other Democrats noted the year. 

"It is 2017 and a woman’s uterus is not a political football," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA. 

"We are debating contraception in 2017. Astonishing," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL. 

Pro-life congresswomen such as Rep. Kristi Noem, R-SD, and Martha Roby, R-AL, joined Black in expressing their support of the resolution. Noem said there are more community health centers in South Dakota than the state's one Planned Parenthood, and the community health centers operate in many different locations.

“Planned Parenthood dismembers or chemically poisons a baby to death every two minutes," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ. "Why are U.S. taxpayers giving half a billion dollars each year to Planned Parenthood?"

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, announced her "unwavering support for the lives of the unborn" and her decision to "stand in solidarity with the states" by supporting the resolution. 

"While this is merely taking back the small parting gift that President Obama left Planned Parenthood, the real prize is getting the Reconciliation bill passed by both Houses and signed by President Trump," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. "We are hopeful this bill is a step towards ultimately defunding the nation's abortion giant."

"New videos investigating Planned Parenthood show why today’s House vote on H.J. Res. 43 is an important victory for states’ rights to spend taxpayer dollars on community health centers that provide comprehensive care, rather than channeling money to the nation’s largest chain of abortion clinics," said the Catholic Association's senior policy adviser Maureen Ferguson. Ferguson noted that many states didn't want to fund Planned Parenthood after undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed it profiting from the sale of aborted baby body parts. 

"Many states rushed to redirect taxpayer dollars to community health clinics that actually offer complete prenatal care, mammograms, and other services not offered at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, and outnumber them 20 to 1," she said. "The Obama Administration issued regulations prohibiting states from doing so, and today’s action in the House would rescind those regulations."

“Obama’s legacy of forcing Americans to finance the abortion industry is being steadily dismantled by our new pro-life President and the pro-life Congress," said Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. "We look forward to swift passage of this resolution in the Senate so that it can receive President Trump’s signature."

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Noem, Schakowsky Introduce Bill to Increase Mental Health Care Access for Medicare Recipients

2017/02/16

Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) today introduced the Medicare Mental Health Access Act.  If enacted, this bipartisan legislation would give Medicare recipients better access to mental health care by removing barriers that force seniors to be referred to a primary care doctor before seeing a clinical psychologist.

“Millions of older Americans, but especially those in rural areas, lack adequate access to critical mental health services,” said Rep. Noem.  “Recognizing the important role clinical psychologists can play in a healthy aging process, we’re hopeful this legislation will break down the barriers of access many seniors face.  I thank Rep. Schakowsky for joining me in this effort to boost the mental health and wellbeing of seniors in South Dakota and across the nation.”

“Over 55 million seniors and people with disabilities are currently enrolled in Medicare. Far too many of them need critical mental health services and are unable to access them” said Rep. Schakowsky. “This bill would make a real difference in the lives of Medicare enrollees by allowing clinical psychologists to provide their services to beneficiaries without unnecessary burdens. I am proud to introduce the Medicare Mental Health Access Act with Congresswoman Kristi Noem today.”

The Medicare Mental Health Access Act would define clinical psychologists as “physicians” for the purposes of Medicare, thereby allowing patients to see them directly, rather than relying on a referral from their primary care doctor.  Noem and Schakowsky first introduced this legislation in 2015.

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Rep. Kristi Noem works to replace Obamacare

2017/02/15

Representative Kristi Noem says her attention has recently been spent on Health Care Reform and bringing the best to South Dakota.

Noem voted to start the process to repeal Obamacare. Now she says she is working to create a system that would replace the Affordable Care Act to best serve South Dakotans.

Representative Kristi Noem says, "options such as allowing people to form larger groups to perch health insurance purchase health insurance across state lines so that they can find policies that work better for them and their family at a more affordable cost medical malpractice and reform would be a part of that risk tools to help people to help cover people with per-existing conditions also tax credit so that people actually got the incentive to use their tax credit which would be refundable to go out and buy health insurance policies that make them much more accessible for them."

Noem plans to focus her time on Health Care reform and serve on the House Ways and Means committee.

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Noem, Peterson, Davis, and Loebsack Lead Call for Strong RFS

2017/02/14

Congressional Biofuels Caucus Co-chairs Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD), Congressman Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA), led Members of Congress in a bipartisan letter to the Trump Administration about the importance of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

In their letter to President Trump the lawmakers emphasized the economic benefits of the RFS saying, “In 2015 alone, the RFS is directly responsible for creating nearly 86,000 jobs ranging from farms to equipment manufacturers to ethanol production facilities.” The letter encourages the administration to create certainty in the market by continuing its commitment to the RFS.

“As a co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, it is important to remind the new Administration of its commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard and how it creates jobs and strengthens rural economies,” Peterson said. “I am pleased with the bipartisan support for this letter and will continue to fight for a robust Renewable Fuel Standard in the years to come.”

“A strong RFS is extremely important to our nation's economy,” Davis said. “The RFS is crucial to supporting jobs across rural America and in other parts of our country. I look forward to working with the new administration to ensure we maintain a strong RFS.”

“With advances in technology, we are growing more on fewer acres and using that efficiency to diversify the market,” Noem said.  “Through the RFS, we can make sure American-grown fuels have a place in our energy supply and give farmers and ranchers the opportunity to contribute to greater energy independence.”

“The RFS is more than just a number. It represents the hard work Iowa’s farmers and rural communities put into creating a fuel source for the future that also decreases our dependence on foreign oil.” Loebsack said. “As the co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, I am proud to help lead the fight for a strong RFS and have worked to highlight its importance to Iowa. I look forward to working with my colleagues, the EPA, and new administration to ensure the RFS remains strong for our country, for our economy, and for Iowa.”

 

Letter’s language:

Dear President Trump:

As members of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, we write you today to urge your administration to continue to support a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This is an important policy that creates jobs in rural America, boosts economic growth, and lowers gas prices nationwide.

As you know, communities in rural America depend on agriculture and manufacturing jobs for employment. The RFS supports 400,000 of these jobs across the nation. In 2015 alone, the RFS is directly responsible for creating nearly 86,000 jobs ranging from farms to equipment manufactures to ethanol production facilities. There is no doubt that rural Americans and their families benefit from the economic expansion and jobs created by the RFS.

In 2015, the RFS added $44 billion in economic activity. This is felt throughout greater America as farmers produce larger harvests to meet fuel demand. In turn, equipment manufacturers produce more efficient farm machinery, and truckers are relied on to move products. Engineers at ethanol and biodiesel facilities across the nation produce the most cost-effective biofuels in the world, lowering gas prices for all Americans and bringing high-paying jobs to rural areas.

In fact, biofuels play a major role in the reduction of gas prices. The biofuels production capabilities of our nation are extraordinarily efficient.  Studies show that ethanol can reduce gas prices by as much as $1.00 per gallon. With ethanol blended in 97% of gasoline, it is helping consumers save money virtually every time they fill up. A strong and continued RFS can reduce gas prices even further.

We encourage your administration to engage with the Congressional Biofuels Caucus to generate strategies that ensure the RFS remains strong. Continued commitments to this biofuels policy will create certainty and lead to additional jobs in rural America, enhanced economic growth, and help keep gas prices low. We look forward to working with you in the years that follow.

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Contact Information

1323 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2801
Fax 202-225-5823
noem.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

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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