The US Legislature passed the Farm Bill earlier this week, and Dakota Rural Action (DRA) is taking time to thank state officials for their leadership in the protection of County of Origin Labeling (COOL) and rolling back limitations to the USDA’s authority to address certain business practices of meatpackers. Protecting these provisions in the Farm Bill is seen as a big win for South Dakota ranchers.
“Dakota Rural Action members have worked closely with our congressional delegation to secure Country of Origin Labeling and stronger enforcement capabilities of the Packers & Stockyards Act as far back as the 2002 Farm Bill,” explained SD Rancher and DRA Member Holly Waddell of Shadehill, SD. “These two pieces of agricultural policy offer great benefit for independent meat producers. They also help guarantee food sovereignty and security for the United States of America.”
South Dakota’s Senators Johnson and Thune and Representative Noem all acted as leaders on these issues.
“Our ranchers will benefit significantly from this bill,” said Sen. Johnson. “Not only does this compromise enable Country of Origin Labeling to continue as well as maintain USDA’s ability to ensure a fair and transparent marketplace, but it also contains critical livestock disaster assistance programs to help ranchers in my State who are still recovering from the 2012 drought and last year’s terrible blizzard.”
“I commend Senators Johnson and Thune and Representative Noem for their perseverance in defending these important pieces in the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Waddell.
In additions to wins on COOL and Livestock Provisions, beginning SD farmers and ranchers will also see support from the Farm Bill. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) will be fully funded in order to support programs like the Farm Beginnings Program offered by DRA. The Farm Bill also took some steps to improve a beginning farmer’s access to land.
While the bill did include many wins, there were also some disappointments.
The final bill eliminated reforms to the commodity program subsidies which had passed in both chambers of Congress. By increasing the subsidy limit and leaving in certain loopholes wealthy farms will be able to collect many times the current payment limit.
SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), a program which provides individuals and families in need with access to food, will be cut by $8.6 billion.
For more information about the work being done at Dakota Rural Action visit www.dakotarural.org or call 605-697-5204.