Ranching community weighs in on farm bill

Bill not perfect, but most ranchers satisfied

RAPID CITY, S.D. – The long-awaited 2018 Farm Bill was recently passed by the U.S. House. The bipartisan legislation has received a mostly positive reception in South Dakota.

James Halverson, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, said that ranchers acknowledge that the bill, formally known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, is not perfect.

They were disappointed that the Land and Water Conservation Fund was continued in the new bill. That program allows the federal government to use treasury funds to purchase private land. That can pit landowners against the government.

But Halverson also said that ranchers were pleased with the continuance of the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Program. Both programs help ranchers who are affected by drought and other natural disasters.

The farm bill also contained provisions to help young ranchers. Halverson said that has ranchers excited about the future of their industry.

“It increased some of the funding for programs for beginning farmers and ranchers, which is always good,” Halverson said. “It’s a tough business and it’s a really tough business to get started in because of all the startup capital that’s needed. Having some provisions in there that help with funding for beginning farmers and ranchers.

“I think is really a great thing and shows the support from Congress for our industry,” Halverson continued.

Halverson also said ranchers were pleased that the legislation also contained relief for farmers affected by tariffs on agricultural commodities, including soybeans.

Ranchers continue to study the farm bill. In the future, ranchers hope to see country-of-origin labeling for meat products to tell consumers where their food is coming from.

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