HURON (AP) — South Dakota agriculture producers will make concessions like direct payments, but they are standing firm on the need for crop insurance as a crucial safety net, industry leaders said Friday.
Eight months into her term, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., hosted a roundtable discussion at the State Fair to hear the specifics of what those in the agriculture industry want to see in the 2012 federal farm bill.
"Those who know the industry should be making those decisions," she said.
Throughout the August recess, the South Dakota congressional delegation has met with producers to learn what they want to see in the farm bill and what they can live without. With many in Congress determined to put the federal government on a diet, funding cuts are inevitable across the board.
Although funding levels are in question, Noem said agriculture should not have to suffer more than other government programs.
Industry leaders at Noem’s session agreed that crop insurance must remain in the mix. They also want to eliminate unreasonable regulations and see the free trade agreements passed.
Northern and southern agriculture producers differ on crop insurance and direct payments.
Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, said southern members of the organization want to keep direct payments, while northern members want crop insurance. Southerners don’t like crop insurance because they don’t get their premiums back, he said.
Producers also want the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture out of their lives as much as possible. Often, they administrate policies they can’t get passed in legislation.
"Let us operate our farms the way we need to be successful," VanderWal said.
Instead, producers are dealing with no warnings and huge fines when they fail to follow regulations.
He also said the quickest way to help agriculture is to pass the free trade agreements.
Dairy producers are enjoying a strong export market, said Marv Post, president of the South Dakota Dairy Producers. Exports to India and China are climbing 15 to 20 percent a year, he said.
Dairy is the most regulated component of the animal industry, he said. He called for common sense rules on dairy operations.
The government must also do something about the immigration issue, Post said. While dairy producers try to hire locally, it’s extremely difficult to find people to work on a dairy farm and owners rely on immigrant labor.
The lock and dam system in downstream states must be updated so producers have a water option to get their crops to market, said Paul Casper, vice president of the South Dakota Soybean Association.
He also urged the federal government to step in and develop a plan to move excess water so cropland is once again viable. Casper said he’s catching walleye on land he harvested last year.
The solution has to come from a higher authority because counties and townships are fighting with each other.