HURON – Although it won’t expire for another two years, work on the next Farm Bill has begun, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Wednesday.
Members of the House Agriculture Committee have already started preliminary discussions, she said in a conference call with reporters.
The panel wants to move quickly on the legislation, hoping to pass it out of the House and get it over to the Senate this year, Noem said.
“It will give us an opportunity to talk about all that agriculture does for this country,” she said.
An education process about the importance of a strong Farm Bill is ongoing, especially with new House members, Noem said.
She is advocating a number of priorities, including a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, crop insurance, cattle programs, disaster relief and conservation, among others.
Noem said she would like to see more opportunities for producers to participate in conservation programs on their land.
Meanwhile, she said a letter she sent to President Trump asking his administration to support a strong renewable fuels standard has bipartisan support.
In his campaign, the president indicated he was supportive of the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS). But the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration fell short of what Congress wants to see in the RFS, she said, adding she wants the RFS to be back in line with the goals of Congress.
Through a congressional review act, members are now considering the elimination of some last-minute regulations imposed by President Obama before he left office, Noem said.
The House is now able to roll back some of those “radical elements” through the review act. President Trump signed the first rollback this week, she said.
Asked about the president’s continued push for a wall between Mexico and the United States, Noem said while she has not seen a cost analysis of such a project she agrees with him about securing the border.
She said she also agrees there is a need to reform the immigration program.
There are stretches of the border where a wall makes sense, Noem said, adding she doesn’t think it needs to extend the entire length. A wall by definition means more security and more bodies along the southern border, she said.
House members are reviewing models of plans that would drive down costs after action is taken to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Noem said.
The ACA that became law during the Obama administration has been a failure because of a lack of access, higher costs and more people struggling to pay health insurance premiums, she said.
While the goal is to repeal the so-called Obama-care, people have to be given security while new policies are developed, Noem said.
“The number one goal that we have is not to take options away from people,” she said.
“We’re committed to protecting the health care needs of all Americans,” Noem said.
Reforming entitlement programs through the ACA would mean a cost savings so tax credits could be offered to people looking to buy insurance policies, she said.
In a conference call last week, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare may extend into 2019.
But Noem disagrees, saying she thinks Congress will act to implement some reforms much sooner.
“We’ll see real changes, I believe, this year,” she said.
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