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Tsitrian: Noem Part of Problem, Not Solution, on Farm Bill

Evidently hard-pressed for thoughtful content, this morning's Rapid City Journal reprints Rep. Kristi Noem's press release from December 13 about what a great job she's doing bringing home the Farm Bill... which remains a bill, not a law, as Kristi enjoys her long Christmas vacation.

John Tsitrian calls Rep. Noem's essay many things. "Disingenuous" is the kindest word he uses:

She has allied with the extremists comprising the suicide-squad of the Republican party, aka "tea partiers" who are the handmaidens of ultra-conservative non-think tanks like the Club for Slow Growth, the Heritage of the 18th Century Foundation, and The Catotonic Institute. These are the same intellectual whirlwinds who possessed Noem and her political allies to shut down the U.S. government last October and nearly cause its financial collapse by refusing to raise the debt ceiling a few days later. Noem blithely went along with this anarcho-ideological crusade without considering the direct consequences on the economy of her home state, where the tourism industry went instantly moribund with the closure of Mt. Rushmore and other national parks. That ranchers who lost much of their livelihoods during a massive blizzard during that period and had no federal agencies available to assist them must merely have been an oversight for Noem, who professes her concern for passage of a farm bill "that will impact every South Dakotan's life," as she did this morning in the RCJ [John Tsitrian, "Yeeee-haaah! Bring It On Home, Kristi!" The Constant Commoner, 2013.12.30].

As Tsitrian says, the Farm Bill is lurching toward enactment "in spite of, not because of, Kristi Noem's efforts." Republicans like Tsitrian should look for a primary challenger who could actually get things done in Washington. Barring that, we Democrats will be happy to offer you all an option for effective government.


  1. Lanny V Stricherz 2013.12.30

    No one seems to be able to give me an answer on this. Will the new farm bill retroactively cover the ranchers for part of or all of their losses, since the blizzard happened the day after the extension of the previous farm bill expired? I know of no insurance company in the country that will retroactively cover your loss, be it fire, theft, sickness, life, auto, etc, if you were not covered the day that the loss was suffered.

    Now that, as was in the news over the weekend, there has been 3 million dollars raised to cover those losses through private donations, it will be interesting to see if a new farm bill will cover the losses retroactively.

    Even more interesting will it be to see if West River South Dakota still has its proclivity for voting Republican in the US House race next Fall, in spite of the fact that their only Congressperson let them down through her lack of effort to pass the farm bill because she along with other ultra conservatives were more interested in getting SNAP out of the farm bill, than in getting a farm bill passed.

  2. D Basel 2013.12.30

    The farm bill extension that expired in September did NOT include funding for the Livestock Indemnity Program among about fifteen other programs that were in the previous farm bill. Word is the new bill will be retroactive to the last farm bill that expired in 2012 or 2011. But who knows how this bill will look when it gets passed.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2013.12.30


    In a CSPAN 5 minute congressional statement shortly after the October blizzard, Noem expressed concern for the ranchers and their loses. Of course she had plenty of material with story after story of the blizzard affects.

    Included in her comments, were not just the necessity of getting the farm bill passed, but to make it retroactive to cover the cattle loses.

  4. Rorschach 2013.12.30

    If I decide not to insure my home, will the federal government cover my damage in the event of say a tornado? If I decide to run my business without insurance, will the federal government make good on any losses I sustain? In my opinion, if the federal government is going to offer relief, it should only offer relief in excess of that which individuals acting prudently could have and should have planned for by purchasing available insurance. This, in essence, is my definition of "disaster" relief. To the extent anyone could have insured but chose not to, that decision to go bare or to underinsure ought not be rewarded by taxpayers.

  5. Deb Geelsdottir/ 2013.12.30

    John, that is an excellent quote. Witty, clever, clear and LOL funny! Good work.

  6. Kent Frerichs 2014.01.17

    Agricultural Columnist Alan Guebert (found in the Watertown Public Opinion, Mitchell Daily Republic, Aberdeen American News Farm Forum and other publications) has some interesting documented information and comparisons regarding the SNAP and other USDA programs. The following is a portion of his recent column:

    According to the Jan. 2 Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Dec. 31 showed “that despite partisan rhetoric about food stamp fraud and abuse, a record low rate of food stamps were given out in error — 3.42 percent in 2102 when all errors were accounted for.”

    Moreover, the Plain Dealer, went on, “(O)nly 2.77 percent of the errors involved overpayment … the rest — 0.65 percent — occurred in cases where the government gave fewer benefits, not more, than the recipient was entitled to.”

    Even better, 2012 was “the ninth straight year that the national error rate for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has been under 6 percent … ”

    Those facts, Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown told the newspaper, point to one conclusion: “When detractors of SNAP overstate fraud to further their own political goals, they not only hurt families struggling with a tough economy, they engage in blatant dishonesty.”

    Blatant or not, it is dishonest to claim that SNAP, given years of irrefutable facts, is a program ripe with fraud, overpayment and corruption.

    There are other government programs, even other USDA programs, that feature higher — and in many cases, far higher — rates of fraud, overpayment and corruption than SNAP.

    For example, on Aug. 12, 2013, USDA released its annual “Executive Order 13520 Audit Report” for 2012 ( docs/50024-0003-11.pdf). The audit requires all government agencies to “report on any high-dollar overpayments identified in programs that are susceptible to significant improper payments.”

    By definition, the “threshold for a reportable overpayment” is “more than $5,000 in total to an individual for the quarter and as more (sic) than $25,000 in total to an entity … ”

    Of the seven internal USDA agencies or departments that reported payments of at least that size, the Food Nutrition Service — the bureaucratic home to food assistance programs like SNAP and the National School Lunch Program — had zero “number of reported high-dollar overpayments” for zero dollars in 2012.

    The winner of this biggest loser race, according to USDA’s Inspector General, was the Risk Management Agency’s Federal Crop Insurance Program. In 2012, RMA reported at least 70 overpayments in the federal crop insurance that totaled more than $14.6 million, or an average overpayment of $209,301.

    What’s more, while those overpayments numbered just 30 percent of all USDA mistakes in 2012, the total amount of crop insurance “overpayment” cash equaled 72 percent of all wrongly paid USDA cash.

    Rep. Collin Peterson, D-MN, Ranking Member of the House Ag Committee, believes those numbers don’t even show the iceberg tip of crop insurance errors and fraud.

    Last April Peterson publicly estimated that “there is five times as much fraud” in federal crop insurance than in SNAP.

  7. rollin potter 2014.01.17

    Oh MY,MY!!! Don't Tell Kristi Noem and her husband and all these suckers who stand in line at the fsa office to get there insurance subsidy checks this !!!!! The fraud must be in the poor people who are dependent on snap!!!!!!

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