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South Dakotans Heading to Washington Next Week for NFU Fly-In

Huron S.D. (KELO AM) - Over two dozen South Dakotans will travel to the nation’s capital next week to urge lawmakers to pass a comprehensive five-year farm bill before the current extension expires at the end of the month. The group will travel Sept. 9-11 as part of the South Dakota Farmers Union delegation attending the National Farmers Union’s annual Fly-In to Washington, D.C. The group will join hundreds of other Farmers Union members from across the country who will gather in the nation’s capital to talk with members of Congress.

“There isn’t much time for Congress to get a farm bill passed before the Sept. 30 deadline,” said South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke who will lead his state’s group to Washington. “It’s critical that we get a farm bill passed before the expiration date, and we’ll be making our case to members of Congress that rural America needs a bill, and we need it done now.”

The last farm bill was passed in 2008. It was extended for one year in 2012 and will expire at the end of September. The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive bill this summer, but the House defeated its own version on the floor. The House then passed a bill stripping nutrition programs and leaving only farm programs. A conference committee will be appointed with members from both the House and the Senate to negotiate a compromise bill between the two chambers.

“The first priority is going to be urging House leadership to appoint conferees to work out the differences with the Senate’s bill,” Sombke said. “The Senate’s already named its conferees, and the House needs to do the same before we can move forward.”

South Dakota Farmers Union joined a coalition this summer made up of agriculture, conservation, energy, and business groups along with the state’s largest network of charitable food banks to launch a ‘Back the Farm Bill’ campaign. It was aimed at educating the public and gaining support for a comprehensive five-year farm bill. South Dakota Farmers Union and the coalition collected over 600 signed letters addressed to South Dakota’s congressional delegation urging their support of a farm bill and asking their help in talking with their colleagues in Congress about the importance of passing the bill before the end of the month. Farmers Union will present the letters to Rep. Kristi Noem and Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson.

“Along with presenting the letters to our congressional delegation, throughout our time in Washington we’ll be making our case to many of the urban lawmakers from across the country who don’t know much about rural America,” Sombke said. “They need to know how important this bill is to all Americans, not just farmers and ranchers.”

The National Farmers Union Fly-In will be held Sept. 9-11. Farmers Union members from across the country will visit the office of every member of Congress over the three day event. They will also meet with officials from the United States Department of Agriculture and White House staff.