SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As John Thune begins his fourth term as South Dakota’s U.S. Senator, he says one of his top priorities this year will be helping to craft the 2023 farm bill.

“With these high prices also comes very, very volatile times,” Dave Ellens with SD Corn Growers said.

From South Dakota Corn, to Pork Producers and Pheasants Forever, Senator Thune met with representatives from many South Dakota ag industries in Sioux Falls to learn about the issues they’re facing.

“We’ve already heard a number of ideas this year, many of which we’ve incorporated into legislation we hope will be eventually a part of this next farm bill,” Senator Thune said. 

Over the past few months, Senator Thune has hosted similar Farm Bill roundtables with farmers and ranchers in the Aberdeen area and in the western part of the state.

“Hearing from people in every quadrant of South Dakota, because it’s different,” Thune said. “In the livestock world, country of origin labeling is a high priority for farmers in western South Dakota.”

But during Tuesday’s Farm Bill roundtable in Sioux Falls, the Senator heard from pork producers who have a different view on the country of origin labeling.

“With pork, it’s a little different situation, we do import a lot of our feeder pigs out of Canada, so that’s a good relationship with us,” Craig Anderson with SD Pork said.

This is the 5th farm bill Senator Thune has worked on and says these conversations with local producers are a key part of successfully updating federal programs.

“In almost every farm bill we’ve done so far, the best ideas have come from meetings with people in the state,” Thune said.

“Crop insurance is so important for the family farm,” Allens said.

Priorities producers are thankful to be able to share and hopefully make an impact in their communities.

“We join these organizations to be the voice for our neighbors, for our own farm, for the counties we represent, and so for us to sit here with Senator Thune to tell him what’s on our plates and what’s important to us gives merit to why we’re a part of these organizations,” Allen said.

Along with country of origin labeling, Senator Thune expects to see several congressional hearings and discussions on helping nutrition programs work more efficiently, how to best help farmers with crop insurance and other natural disasters, along with several new conversations about conservation and carbon emissions.

“I can see a robust conversation about how agriculture may be able to benefit from the increasing emphasis the country is placing on reducing carbon emissions,” Senator Thune said.

“There’s a lot of things farmers are doing right now that are sequestering carbon, can prove we’re helping out with good, climate friendly farming,” Allen said. 

The Farm Bill is up for renewal this September, something that generally happens once every four or five years, depending on extensions. 

Senator Thune has also met with representatives from Feeding South Dakota to hear about their needs; he says roughly 80 to 85 percent of the spending in the Farm Bill is for the nutrition program. Senator Thune does not expect to see an increase in funding for the agricultural portion of the Farm Bill.

“That means anything we want to do to change any other title of the program, we’ll have to figure how to pay for it from somewhere else,” Thune said.