HURON – As Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) visited with constituents on Saturday at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron, he took some time to speak with The Plainsman about the upcoming Farm Bill and other agriculture legislation.
Johnson sees this as a very positive time for forward momentum for ag-related policy.
“We’ve had more policy wins in the last few years than we’ve had in the last 20 years,” he noted. “About a year and a half ago, all the major livestock organizations from left and right got together in Phoenix and settled on three things that they could agree on for future policy.”
He continued: “They know if we make policy that only half of livestock folks agree on, that we aren’t going to make the progress that we need to make.”
What are those three things that were agreed upon?
“They said we need greater price transparency, so we understand what the packers are paying,” said Johnson. “Number two, we need to add more capacity because so much capacity is held by the four major packers. Finally, we need better investigations so we can really find out if there is anti-competitive behavior is taking place.”
Johnson says that he has put his efforts behind bills that affect those three areas and multiple pieces of legislation have passed the House and are waiting for approval in the Senate.
“It seems like a lot of the legislation that we’ve passed through the House has had trouble getting through the Senate,” Johnson observed.
Johnson also discussed a bill that he has proposed to restrict purchase of American farmland by Chinese and other foreign interests.
“That should never have been allowed in the first place,” Johnson explained.
After a roundtable at the Fair on Friday discussed the need for farm workers and encouraged Senate action on the Farm Worker Modernization Act (FMWA), Johnson said that the issue could struggle in D.C.
“Overwhelmingly, the FMWA did not have support among ag-state Republicans,” Johnson said. “The FMWA does not do enough to help South Dakota’s economy. (The bill) needs work to have enough support to pass in the Senate.”