Monday's Dakota Digest from South Dakota Public Broadcasting quoted someone who really made me question the effectiveness of South Dakota's lone representative in the U.S. House, particularly as it relates to the Farm Bill that's awaiting yet another round of negotiations before taking effect. Perhaps not surprisingly, the person whose commentary calls into question the value of our current Congressional representation is U.S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) herself:
Especially since this disaster has happened, I think it's been the perfect poster child for why we need a Farm Bill and what provisions are really included in a Farm Bill that help make sure that we have a viable agriculture industry [Kristi Noem, as quoted by Charles Michael Ray, "Ranchers Call for Farm Bill," Dakota Digest, 2013/11/04, timestamp 03:02].
That's right, Noem has found the silver lining in the storm clouds of a record-breaking blizzard that left tens of thousands of cattle dead and ranchers unable to reach the resources of a federal government she and her colleagues shut down. While West River ranchers still struggle to recover, Noem now has in their disaster the "perfect poster child" for sounding good to her colleagues on the Farm Bill Conference Committee.
Rep. Noem also says she's more popular than ever on the Hill:
Members walk by me all day long every day that said [sic], "Man, we're thinkin' about South Dakota. We gotta get a Farm Bill done." And a year ago, honestly, that wasn't happening; people didn't realize the urgency [Noem, as quoted on Dakota Digest, timestamp 03:18].
That's right, a year ago, when Kristi was more focused on getting re-elected than doing any governing, people didn't see the urgency of getting a Farm Bill done. Perhaps that's because at that point, uncertainty about the Farm Bill didn't even worry Noem.
If the reason a Farm Bill hasn't passed is that Congress doesn't understand its importance to the agriculture industry, it's the job of an ag-state Congresswoman like Noem (who's on the Agriculture Committee, to boot!) to get them to understand. If Noem had done that job from the start, ranchers wouldn't be relying on DQ burger sales instead of the Livestock Indemnity Program to recover from their October losses.
The basic job expectation of passing a Farm Bill is one at which Kristi Noem has failed every step of the way, whether because of intraparty squabbles in the House, attempts to separate feeding hungry people from subsidizing farmers, or good old-fashioned refusal to be part of a compromise solution.
If Noem can't get the job done without having a once-in-a-century disaster handy to make her case, it's time we give her job to someone else. South Dakota needs a Congressperson who's more interested in making the government work than in standing in its way and then complaining when it doesn't.