It’s been a tough few years for agriculture. Between a drought, hail, and low prices, net farm income has been cut in half the last four years.

The Farm Bill was designed to provide a safety net for our food supply during stretches like this. In 2014, we approved a five-year Farm Bill, which offered strong crop insurance and livestock disaster programs for producers. That legislation is now up for renewal, which we’re making steady progress on.

The House’s updated Farm Bill incorporates reforms I helped write to strengthen commodity programs. It also increases CRP acreage, updates the wetland determination process, and strengthens dairy policy. I’ve detailed many of these changes at noem.house.gov/FarmBill.

Because the Senate passed a separate version, we’re in the process of merging the two documents into a final proposal, and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to wrap up negotiations quickly.

The Farm Bill, however, is just one aspect of agriculture policy that we’re closely monitoring. For years, China has exploited the American people, and they need to be held accountable for that. But in recent months, farmers and ranchers have been forced to bear the burden of retaliatory tariffs.

In July, I invited Scott VanderWal, a Volga-area farmer and president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, to testify before Congress about the impact of China’s trade and tariff threats. He explained: “We understand other countries, particularly China, have not played fairly, and we respect President Trump’s desire to remedy those situations. The problem is, those countries know just where to punch us back in a dispute by targeting our agriculture products. Through no fault of our own, and unintentionally, our industry ends up being used for leverage.”

I share these concerns and have personally expressed them to top administration officials and President Trump himself. In addition to phone calls and meetings, I wrote to President Trump this spring, warning that “All our hard-won gains in Farm Country are at serious risk of being wiped away because China is threatening retaliation against American farmers.”

Especially given the national security risks that would come if another country controls our food supply, the administration must help provide a strong safety net for America’s producers in the face of China’s retaliatory actions. Along with Senators Rounds and Thune, I urged President Trump in July to make U.S. agriculture exports a priority with our trading partners around the world and explained how recent market uncertainty has already cost South Dakota producers hundreds of millions of dollars. Farmers and ranchers simply can’t afford to be further entangled in global trade disputes.

While there were more than 200 rural congressional districts 50 years ago, just over 30 remain. There’s no doubt that creates a disconnect in Congress. So few understand that most producers take a loan out each year, bury that money in the ground in the form of seed and fertilizer, and hope – not only for a good yield – but for the right market conditions at the right time. It’s a tough business. But as a lifelong farmer and rancher, I get why folks do it and why we must fight for trade and agriculture policies that protect the safest, most reliable, and most abundant food supply in the world.

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