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Farm Bill Forum At State Fair

September 3, 2011, 10:10 PM by Jon Berg

Farm Bill Forum At State Fair
HURON, SD - The National Farm Bill expires in a little more than a year, and generally it takes 12 to 16 months to write a bill. That means there's a lot of work to get done before the current bill is up.

The South Dakota State Fair is usually a place for food and fun. But the topic on the minds of farmers and ranchers today, was politics.

"It's the largest sector of our state economy so it's hugely important to us what happens in the farm bill," President of the National Farmers Union Roger Johnson said.

Dozens of concerned citizens shared their opinions Saturday afternoon at a Farm Bill Forum. Johnson says time is limited, as it takes at least a year to craft new legislation.

"Time is wasting here, we've got to get moving on it," Johnson said.

And with the current state of the economy, resources will be limited in crafting the new bill. Farmers like Jerry Petik know they'll have less money to work with, so it needs to be utilized properly.

"What we need to do is spend the money where it does the most good or we co-op to stimulate other money," Farmer Jerry Petik said.

But others believe that cutting the farm bill will actually help the economy. But Johnson says that isn't true.

"Less than one fourth of one percent of the federal budget goes to programs that help farmers in agriculture... So these folks that say if we just cut the farm bill. If we just cut ag budgets it's going to solve the deficit problem they're just crazy, I mean there's no element of truth to that," Johnson said. 

And Johnson says that the farm bill doesn't just affect farmers it also affects food programs in the state.

"The biggest piece of the farm bill is always the Nutrition Funding, it's like two thirds to three fourths of all the money in the farm bill right now is nutrition, which is the snap program, it's food assistance for folks who don't have much money, it's school lunch programs, it's the things like that, and they're important," Johnson said. 

This leaves many South Dakotans hungry to resolve these issues and move forward.

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