WATERTOWN, S.D. – To kickoff National Ag Week, Kristi Noem, a lifelong farmer and rancher, today launched her Agricultural Growth Initiative. The proposal aims to strengthen and diversify South Dakota’s top industry.
“Our farm and ranch has been in the family for more than a century,” said Noem. “We’ve survived bad droughts, bad floods, and bad policies. While you can’t change the weather, you can change policy. As governor, I will leverage my experience as a lifelong producer to advance agriculture. From protecting property rights to expanding markets, my administration would be built to develop the state’s agricultural economy and give more young people the opportunity to thrive as farmers and ranchers in South Dakota for a century more.”
Raised on the values of hard work and self-reliance, Noem grew up on a farm and ranch in rural Hamlin County. Just a few years after graduating high school, her dad died in a grain bin accident. She put her pursuit of a college degree on hold, returned to the family farm and ranch full-time, and helped stabilize the operation.
In 1997, Noem received the South Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer award. Noem also served on the South Dakota State Farm Agency State Committee and the Commission for Agriculture in the 21st Century.
As South Dakota’s lone representative in the U.S. House, Noem helped successfully negotiate a strong Farm Bill that included livestock disaster assistance and critical safety nets for producers. When federal agencies considered proposals to regulate dust or limit the work some kids did on farms, she fought back – and won. During tax reform negotiations, she was one of the only farmers at the table, yet secured interest deductibility, immediate expensing, and lower rates for farmers and ranchers as part of the historic tax cut.
AGRICULTURAL GROWTH INITIATIVE
Create a Blueprint for Agricultural Economic Development. With an annual economic impact of $25.6 billion, agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry. In recent years, however, deflated prices and lower-than-average yields have delivered a serious blow to the state’s economy. To build and diversify the sector, I will direct the Department of Agriculture and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to construct a Blueprint that broadens opportunities for existing farms and ranches and helps identify and recruit our next ag-related growth industries.
Equip South Dakotans with the skills needed to succeed in agriculture. The average South Dakota farmer is 57 years old, meaning many will be at or near retirement in the next decade. To meet our long-term needs, it’s time we ready the next generation to fulfill global food demands. As governor, I will work to expand education and increase investments in production-boosting research, such as biotechnology and precision ag. More specifically, I am committed to:
- Encouraging strong support of 4-H and FFA programs;
- Dramatically increasing shared-learning opportunities among universities, technical programs, and high schools for ag education and skills training;
- Continuing investments into SDSU’s first-in-the-nation precision agriculture degree program;
- Completing SDSU’s precision ag building, which the state legislature recently approved;
- Promoting cross-training between students at SDSU and technical schools, like Lake Area Tech;
- Ensuring South Dakota continues to host a vibrant State Fair; and
- Enhancing the Governor’s Ag Summit to increase access and educational offerings.
Review permitting structure to ensure it promotes economic development and respects local control. When new businesses are recruited to South Dakota, they must go through a series of permitting approvals at the state, county, and local levels. To increase certainty for those looking to invest and expand in South Dakota, my administration would undergo a thorough review of the current permitting system, working hand-in-hand with counties to improve the process.
Add value to South Dakota-grown commodities and livestock. There is no work ethic like a South Dakota work ethic. With agriculture as the foundation, we can leverage that homegrown ambition and add value to every bushel produced. If elected, I will direct the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to prioritize value-added agriculture, thoroughly vetting new processing, agricultural biotechnology, and manufacturing opportunities and offering upward mobility to more South Dakotans than ever before.
Bolster Livestock Disease Preparedness. With increasing trade, both foreign and domestic, risk of foot-and-mouth, avian influenza, and many other diseases has greatly increased in recent years. But South Dakota – backed by SDSU’s world-class animal disease research program, including the new laboratory that is currently under construction – is uniquely positioned to improve livestock disease management practices. Working with the university, the Animal Industry Board, the State Veterinarian, and our growing biotech industry, we can mitigate economic and environmental impacts while improving overall herd and flock health.
Enhance infrastructure to support farmers and grow the economy. With falling prices and a rising basis, many producers are feeling the pinch. As governor, I will work to improve the state’s infrastructure to lower the basis for grain products, putting more money in the hands of hardworking farmers and growing our economy.
Transition the state vehicle fleet to higher ethanol blends. For years, I’ve strongly defended policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which sets annual goals for the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be incorporated into America’s fuel supply. Additionally, I led efforts to extend the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax credit. With volatility growing in oil-rich areas of the world, we must maximize the use of homegrown fuels. As governor, I will lead by example and work to transition the state fleet to higher ethanol blends, such as E-30.
Expand working lands conservation. As a lifelong producer and avid hunter, I deeply understand the careful balance between production and conservation. In the U.S. House, I fought to expand the sodsaver program, incentivizing the protection of native grasslands while ensuring the choice was ultimately left to producers. As governor, I will expand voluntary conservation programs by improving landowner relationships. Working together, we can boost soil health and increase productivity on every acre, using precision agriculture to help farmers determine which areas may be best for cultivation while conserving the rest.