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Farm Bill COOL Provisions In Doubt; Relevance of Noem’s Role In More Doubt

Last updated on 2014.01.23

South Dakota's lone U.S. Representative, Kristi Noem, seems to be faced with more and more reasons to regret being named to the as yet ineffectual Farm Bill Conference Committee. What at first gave Noem and her supporters reasons to crow has done more to leave the South Dakota Republican eating crow as she exhibits zero ability to push forward this policy behemoth and instead resorts to a series of "we're almost there ... for realsies!" statements that provide no certainty for ag producers awaiting legislation that fundamentally shapes their livelihood.

Today's wishin'-and-hopin' sound bite comes in response to newly aired doubts from the South Dakota Farmers Union*, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) about whether the Farm Bill's still-fictional final version will adequately protect Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).

The Associated Press leaves Noem's support for COOL relatively vauge:

Republican Rep. Kristi Noem said she believes it's possible to protect consumers and maintain a strong trade relationship with neighboring countries.

"I am fully committed to getting a Farm Bill finalized in the next few weeks that avoids market distortions, keeps food costs low, and gives South Dakota producers the tools and certainty they need this Spring," she said in an emailed statement [Carson Walker (Associated Press), "South Dakota waiting on word about farm bill," published by Madison Daily Leader, 2014.01.21].

Noem leaves no such vagueness when quoted by Peter Harriman:

... Noem also supports [COOL].

“I have been a strong supporter of COOL and have made that clear to my colleagues on the farm bill conference committee,” Noem said. “It is important for consumers to have information about where their food comes from, and I believe we can do it in a way that continues a strong trade relationship with our neighbors." [Peter Harriman, "Country of origin labeling might not make final farm bill cut," That Sioux Falls Paper, 2014.01.21]

Both this very blog and our grassroots neighbors at Dakota Rural Action would take issue with Noem's assertion of her support as existing continuously in the past tense. The South Dakota Stockgrowers thanked Noem for her support of COOL in May, but only after having to publicly beseech her to defend the practice three days earlier.

But let's assume for a moment that we can take Noem at her word this week. Let's grant that she is indeed a strong supporter of COOL, just like the vast array of farmers and ranchers she represents. Let's imagine that she's been talking the ears off her House and Senate colleagues about the importance of passing a solid Farm Bill and, specifically, of highlighting for consumers any and all beef, chicken, and pork that comes from right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

If we accept that entire narrative, it calls into ever-louder question whether Noem really has what it takes as a legislator and an advocate for South Dakota to turn her much-lauded seat at the table into any sort of legitimate legislative accomplishment.

Noem seems to recognize that her ineffectiveness on the Farm Bill is a political liability, as she's already starting the job-performance damage control:

"I believe people in South Dakota know how hard I’ve worked for this farm bill, and they’ll see I’ve put all my effort, 110 percent, into getting it done. The next election will certainly be an opportunity to continue to reiterate everything we did to get this farm bill completed. ... I think I have done a good (job) showing people how much time and effort, sweat and tears we’ve put into this farm bill that they know that even though we’ve had problems getting a farm bill, that it wasn’t because of my lack of effort.” [Christopher Doering, "Noem: 'I've put all my effort' into farm bill," That Sioux Falls Paper, 2013.12.14]

Noem wants ag producers—heck, all of her constituents—to award her a great big checkmark for trying, particularly when she needs that checkmark on a ballot in November. But if Noem really is giving this Farm Bill everything she's got and all it's gotten us is crossed fingers, it's time to find a Representative who puts forth a strong effort and also gets the job done.

*Correction 2014.01.23 17:04 CST: In the original draft, I erroneously wrote "South Dakota Farm Bureau" instead of "South Dakota Farmers Union." I regret the error.


  1. owen reitzel 2014.01.22

    It would be interesting to go back in time and see how many times NOem as said that they were very close to passing a Farm Bill.

  2. interested party 2014.01.22

    Kiazi's children, their faces wet.

  3. Jerry 2014.01.22

    She really is Lucy with the football, with the ag producers being Charlie Brown trying to make the score. You just know she will move the football preventing that from happening. With all of her failures in getting this bill passed, it really makes you wonder if her true intentions are not to pass it in the first place. NO More NOem

  4. Jenny 2014.01.23

    Lucy with the football, LOL! Good Noem analogy, Jerry! Meanwhile over in Pierre, the repubs have cooked up the usual nutty bills. Let's see, it's only the second week into the SD legislative season and there's an anti-gay bill, a voter suppression bill, and you can't forget your gun bill. SD wouldn't be SD if they didn't have their annual gun touting bill. And they say MN politics is loony?

  5. mike from iowa 2014.01.23

    Jenny-no offense to any real Minnesotans,but their state motto is 10,000 lakes and a flake. The flake being Michele(one L) Bachmann. The one L is so nobody confuses her with Michelle Obama.

  6. SDBlue 2014.01.23

    10,000 lakes and a flake! Mike, that gave me quite the giggle! I have said South Dakota's motto has gone from being The Land of Infinite Variety to The Land of Infinite Intolerance. But that, is not funny.

  7. mike from iowa 2014.01.23

    SDBlue,it is funny from my side of the border. Accurate,too. Variety as defined as white and rethuglican.

  8. Lynn G. 2014.01.23

    According to Corrina Robinson's campaign facebook page her "Official Campaign Launch" should be very soon. Looks like besides traveling the state she is organizing and building her volunteer base. I'm trying to be patient to learn more about this alternative to Noem. Noem has demonstrated obviously she is a waste of invaluable space representing ALL of South Dakota though she has been an effective tool for those in the minority that purchased her house seat and votes. It's the best job she has ever had and will have for herself and her family.

    Sadly her initially being elected and holding her seat does not say much for our great state of South Dakota. We can do much better than this regardless of party affiliation.

    No to Noem in 2014!

  9. caheidelberger 2014.01.23

    Corinna Robinson had better be reading Toby's post and preparing the brief on Noem's farm bill failure. Has Noem passed any legislation with a direct, practical, positive impact on South Dakota?

  10. Lynn G. 2014.01.23

    I've never worked a campaign in regards to proper timing, launch and building momentum but am getting a little impatient with Robinson's campaign. I feel she needs to step up to the plate and let South Dakotans know how she will specifically be able to be more effective than Noem now! She needs publicity to get her name out there and how share with us how she will be help us. Otherwise it's like MIA (Missing in Action).

  11. Sam 2 2014.01.23

    Noem has neve been able to get anything done, why would this be the day. I am not sure she even knows what COOL stands for. Lack of Farm bill shows her lack of effectiveness.

  12. jerry 2014.01.23

    Lucy NOem wants to move away from the Farm Bill quick like. Now she quotes false numbers as a show of what works in South Dakota. She does not want to use the unemployment numbers for Shannon, Dewey and Ziebach for three counties in her latest show proving how worthless she is to represent us. Here she goes on this new rant. Farmers and Ranchers, you are now officially forgotten.

  13. interested party 2014.01.23

    Karl Gehrke just interviewed Noem on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio: she is fleeing from the T-party as fast as her ample bottom will allow.

  14. jerry 2014.01.23

    As far as farmers and ranchers go Sam2, COOL means Clearly Out Of Luck for funding. NOem understands that no matter what kind of lipstick she puts on this sow, it ain't gonna fly.

  15. caheidelberger 2014.01.25

    Lynn, I understand your impatience. We need the candidate to step forward and lead this conversation about Noem's failures.

    Supporting the 2012 Farm Bill that we are on the verge of passing in 2014 requires running away from the Tea Party. A real Tea Partier would have no truck with any of the welfare, corporate or otherwise, that comprises the Farm Bill. A Tea Partier would not accept the notion that folks making as much as $950,000 deserve federal help in buying crop insurance from Kristi's husband Bryon.

  16. interested party 2014.01.25

    Curious that someone from her right flank has yet to enter the House primary as she flees the T-zone.

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