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Johnson discusses federal agricultural goals

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson discussed the status of the upcoming Farm Bill and recently passed legislation on “Product of USA” labeling at a recent visit to Sioux Falls.

The Farm Bill is perhaps the most influential bill Johnson is currently working on. He’s one of members of a subcommittee that creates the Farm Bill’s language.

The bill creates multiple federal safety nets, farm loans, conservation programs, and disaster assistance available to farmers.

Johnson said a challenge for the committee is building a bill that will last for a five-year duration.

“The reason we do a farm bill for a five-year period is that it provide predictability to producers. They don’t have rules changing every year, the know what the rules of road are, they know what type of risk management produces to buy in the marketplace, crop insurance. But we are behind," said Johnson. "We took the last five-year farm bill, we turned it into a six year farm bill to buy ourselves a little more time.”

Johnson said he has had a personal investment in developing the language in the new Farm Bill.

“I am one of the five subcommittee chairmen that helped draft the Farm Bill. We’re really close to being able to release text. I expect that the House will pass out a Farm Bill in the next few months,” said Johnson.

A piece of legislation aimed to support the farm bill by redefining “Product of USA” labeling was recently set in law. Johnson said this labeling has been issue he has been trying to tackle for years.

“If you brought that partially processed product to America and then cut it one more time. That final processing allowed you to put 'Product of the USA' on the label. Which was ridiculous, it was offensive, it was more harmful than it was helpful. It deceived consumers," said Johnson. "So, moving to a “Product of the USA” standard whereby you can only put that title on your package if something is born, raised, slaughtered, and processed in this county is the right thing to do.”  

According to Johnson, the new Farm Bill, supported by new “Product of USA” labeling laws, is expected to be complete by this summer. If not, he says it could take as long as after the next presidential election in November.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.