South Dakota Senator John Thune is asking Speaker of the House John Boehner and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to help South Dakota ranchers who suffered livestock losses during the weekend snow storm.
Thune sent a letter to Vilsack Tuesday asking him to open Farm Service Agency offices in the impacted western South Dakota counties so employees can help tally and assess the losses from the storm. FSA offices are closed right now because of the ongoing government shutdown.
Thune also sent a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to appoint Farm Bill conferees so the House and Senate can start hammering out the details of the legislation as soon as possible. Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the Farm Bill that include livestock disaster programs; however the programs are not in place because both chambers have failed to come to an agreement on a new Farm Bill. The old one expired October 1.
“We need to be doing everything we can to help the livestock producers whose livelihoods have been endangered by this storm,” Thune said in a statement Tuesday.
Thune added that Secretary Vilsack has the authority to exempt FSA employees from the shutdown to help with critical government services in western South Dakota.