SDFU President Lays Out 2012 Farm Bill Priorities at House Ag Committee Hearing

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South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) President Doug Sombke testified Tuesday morning at a field hearing of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee laying out the organization’s priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill. Sombke, along with other South Dakota farmers and ranchers, gave their thoughts on what should be included in the next Farm Bill. The field hearing was held on the campus of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D..

Sombke, who operates a grain and livestock farm near Conde, S.D., discussed crop insurance payments during his brief testimony, urging the congressional committee not to make any major changes to the federal crop insurance program because farmers rely on it to secure operating loans and to market commodities.
“Farmers have grown to use (crop insurance) as a marketing tool to market their product,” Sombke said. “Bankers have come to rely on it, and our rural communities have come to rely on it as well. Any major change to crop insurance will be felt very dramatically across rural America.”

Sombke told the House Ag Committee members in attendance that any discussion surrounding the 2012 Farm Bill should include the goal of profitability for the current generation of farmers and ranchers, and the next generation as well.

“We’ve been able to supply an abundant amount of food for this nation, and we’ll continue to do so. But we need to be profitable. I think that’s the main thing you need to remember; farmers need to be profitable. Without the chance to be able to make a profit, young people will not come back to the farm,” Sombke said. “This isn’t about just farmers making money this is about rural America making money. This is how you put the country back to work, if you put money back into agriculture, agriculture will pay that back, it’s as simple as that.”

The SDFU president submitted written comments to the committee that covered issues such as derivative market reform, country of origin labeling, disaster relief, and trade. Read his full submitted comments by CLICKING HERE.

Sombke said South Dakota is very fortunate to have this field hearing take place within its borders, and thanked the committee members for traveling to South Dakota to hear first hand what’s going on in the agriculture industry from producers themselves.

12 members of Congress were in South Dakota to attend the hearing. They include House Agriculture Committee Chairmain Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), Rep. Travis Childers (D-Miss.), Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Rep. Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.).

Members of the House Ag Committee listen to testimony from farmers and ranchers from South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) (middle) with Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) (left) and Ranking Member Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

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