As farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses we strongly disagree with recent criticisms of Rep. Kristi Noem’s transition to the influential House Ways and Means Committee. This was a strategic move –made with the understanding that having a voice during tax, trade and health care debates would be essential to ensuring fair deals for agriculture and all South Dakotans. For this reason, we each offered our encouragement and support to Noem when the opportunity to join Ways and Means arose in early 2015.
While Farm Bill safety nets are critical to operations, most ag producers acknowledge that tax and trade policies are also important to our ongoing success. Likewise, regulations and health care policies greatly impact ag producers and Noem’s position on Ways and Means provides us with a reliable voice to address these issues.
Since Noem’s appointment to the Ways and Means Committee nearly two years ago, she has helped champion a permanent extension of Section 179 expensing limitations and a five-year extension of bonus depreciation. Both provisions help free up cash flow for producers who want to put their money to better use. As Ways and Means assembled a detailed outline of what comprehensive tax reform could look like, Noem was instrumental in including a full repeal of the estate tax, which will ease the tax burden for family farms.
With Noem on Ways and Means, South Dakota farmers and ranchers have a strong advocate when it comes to leveling the playing field to sell our commodities and livestock globally. Less than 5 percent of the world’s population lives within America’s borders. Therefore, it’s imperative for us to be able to compete in a worldwide market through sound trade policies that seek to lower tariffs, some of which can top 700 percent.
There is no doubt that if you’re a farmer or rancher, you care about the Farm Bill, but the conversation must not stop there. We need to fix what’s wrong with our tax code, level the playing field so products can be sold more easily overseas, eliminate harmful regulations, and make it easier to pass our operations to our children. The agriculture industry’s interests are not isolated to a sole committee in Congress, and our representation shouldn’t be either. In her role as the first South Dakotan in history to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kristi Noem is giving agriculture a powerful and effective voice in Congress.
Todd Wilkinson, president, S.D. Cattlemen’s Association
Brenda Forman, executive director, S.D. Association of Cooperatives
Keith Alverson, president, S.D. Corn Growers Association
Scott VanderWal, president, S.D. Farm Bureau Federation
Jerry Schmitz, president, S.D. Soybean Association