South Dakota Farmers Union in Washington, D.C.
KDLT News Exclusive Coverage
Our coverage continues from Washington DC this week as we explore legislation that will influence Ag producers. We are talking with some of the top officials including the U.S. Agriculture Secretary. KDLT’s Jack Eble wrapped up the first full day of work in Washington, D.C. as he joined the South Dakota Farmers Union as they made their first couple stops.
A visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked the day off. Farmers and ranchers from South Dakota joined a crowd from around the country…hearing from administrators of the USDA. Topics include Ag data collection, conservation efforts and rural healthcare.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also addressed the visitors. Perdue spoke about his plans for the future of the USDA committing to creating a dialogue with the Ag community.
“I always prefer to hear from them because I can learn more from them and I can by speaking to them, said Perdue. “I’m going to try and visit with as many of them as I can to get their ideas on what they’d like to see.”
One of the topics on everyone’s mind is the impact of the hurricanes that have swept the southern part of the country.
Perdue says while Harvey could end up having a billion dollar impact on the Ag industry…it’s too early to tell with Irma.
“Our people are already on the ground with Animal Welfare through FSA, trying to make assessments for the needs we have for farmers in that area,” said Perdue.
Up next for the Farmers Union, a meeting with members of the house and senate Ag committees.
While cameras were not allowed inside during the meeting, conversations ranged from rural internet access to the new farm bill.
“Some of the stuff hit home with a lot of the people we’ve talked to today. I think there is still a little bit of room for them to know what we’re really experiencing in our rural setting,” said Melissa Wonnenberg of Gregory.
While the new farm bill continues to be constructed producers hope it addresses issues like safety nets, market volatility and helps build a future for the industry.
“We’re getting older…the people…I’m up to 57 years old now and I’m one of the younger guys and we need to have these young kids come out of college and come back to these farms and ranches and pick up and go to work,” said Joe Painter of Buffalo
Reporting in Washington, D.C. Jack Eble KDLT News.