The Rural Lobbyist: Informational hearings topic of discussion during Senate Ag this week.

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Rural Lobbyist WEB Banner FINAL In terms of legislation, not much went on in House and Senate Ag this week. However, we did attend important information sessions in both committees. This week we heard from Secretary of Agriculture Mike Jaspers on the comings and goings of the Department of Ag, our State Veterinarian Dustin Oetekoven on the proposed Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab (ADRDL), and the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Steve Pirner. In his presentation, Secretary Jaspers highlighted the current state of agriculture in South Dakota; both the good and the bad. While most of us our aware of the more dire circumstances, Secretary Jaspers did point out that our dairy industry in South Dakota is one of the fastest growing in the nation. In the rest of his report, he talked about the success of the State Fair, the new 4-H exhibit hall, the status of the mountain pine beetle situation, needed improvements to certain buildings on the fairgrounds, wildfire suppression, and other happenings within the department. Click the link below to listen to Secretary Jaspers presentation: http://sdpb.sd.gov/SDPBPodcast/2017/sag10.mp3 State Veterinarian Dr. Oetekoven talked about the progress with the ADRDL and potential funding methods. In the presentation he walked the committee through the current process including where the building will be located, what the building would look like, and the testing capabilities the lab would have. Most importantly, he noted that the scope of this lab goes far beyond that of just agriculture. He talked about the public health benefits, the benefits to South Dakota wildlife, and referenced the people the lab employs. While no bill has been proposed at this time, speculation is that the suggested funding method will be increasing existing fees that producers are paying today. As we expected heading in to this legislative session, finding funding for this lab will not be easy. However, we cannot allow this to be solely ag's burden to bear. This lab will support not only the #1 industry of agriculture, but the #2 industry of tourism, and the public health of our state. We need more participation from the state and SDFU will continue to fight for that participation. Click the link below to listen to Dr. Oetekoven's presentation (Note: His presentation begins later in the recording): http://sdpb.sd.gov/SDPBPodcast/2017/sag10.mp3 Cooperation was a common theme in Secretary Pirner's report to the ag committees this week. In his presentation he highlighted the many ways the DENR works with agricultural producers. This year, in response to the ZIKA virus, the DENR worked to collect over 120,000 used tires to help stop the growth of the mosquito population in South Dakota. It was stated that the standing water in used tires is a major breeding ground for the pesky insects. Secretary Pirner also noted the wealth of information that can be accessed through the DENR webpage. Whether you are looking for information on dug ground wells, where you can recycle your old metal, and much more the DENR has you covered with a long list of databases that can be found online. To hear Secretary Pirner's presentation, click the link below: http://sdpb.sd.gov/SDPBPodcast/2017/sag12.mp3  

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