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S.D.’s Noem says farm bill nearly done, includes livestock provision

MITCHELL, S.D. — After a long and frustrating wait, Congress will pass a bipartisan farm bill that covers a full five years, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told reporters Thursday.

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“The basic framework has been agreed to. There are some details to work out,” Noem said. “Knowing it’s coming provides us with certainty.”

Noem repeated the conventional wisdom that a farm bill won’t be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president until January, but she is confident this drawn-out chapter in farm bill history will close in a positive way.

“This has been the poster child for a messy process,” Noem said. “I am looking forward to making sure that vote happens. ... We know a five-year bill is coming. We are going to have a farm bill that works for South Dakota.”

Noem said lawmakers have sent their policy agreements to the Congressional Budget Office for “scoring,” in which analysts calculate how much programs will cost and how much cuts will reduce spending.

“What we’re waiting for at this point is to get the actual numbers,” Noem said, “so when everybody is placing their final vote on the floor, they really know the details.”

The House is expected to adjourn today or Saturday and not return to work until January.

Noem called the delay into the new year “unfortunate” but praised the agreed-upon farm bill for having the most significant reforms of any farm bill “in decades.”

“This eliminates controversial farm programs like direct payments that have been so highly criticized,” she said, also noting provisions to tighten up food stamp eligibility requirements.

She said the bill will include retroactive livestock disaster programs, using language that she introduced as a standalone bill, and that ranchers who lost cattle in the October blizzard will get some payments.

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