U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem Wednesday announced that the first official public meeting for the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee will be held next week on Wednesday, October 30. 

"It is time to finish the work on this Farm Bill," said Noem.  "I'm eager to sit down with my colleagues next week to begin these important negotiations.  The certainty a new Farm Bill would provide our producers is important to South Dakota's economy, and the livestock disaster programs that would be renewed in this bill would bring much needed relief to West River ranchers who were hit hard by the recent storm. There are some significant differences between the two bills that we need to iron out, but I'm heading into this process optimistic and ready to work hard to complete this process."

Noem, who lives on a ranch in rural Hamlin County, is the first House member from South Dakota to be appointed a member of the Farm Bill conference since 1996.

Rep. Noem championed four main provisions in the House version of the Farm Bill, all of which were included in some form in the final version passed by the House. They include: 

  • Livestock Disaster Protection Act: Would extend the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) for the life of the Farm Bill as well as provide retroactive coverage, since the programs expired in 2011.
  • Protect our Prairies Act: Would encourage conservation of native sod and grassland, save taxpayer dollars and protect the habitat of wildlife critical to South Dakota's hunting industry.
  • National Forest Emergency Response Act: Would streamline processes to get boots on the ground faster for pine beetle mitigation efforts.
  • USDA Office of Tribal Relations: Would permanently establish an Office of Tribal Relations within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help improve communication between USDA and Tribal nations. This provision would not cost taxpayers any additional dollars and instead requires USDA to use existing resources to establish the office.
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