Congresswoman Noem visits Bison

Bob Hanson posed for a picture with Congresswoman Noem, far left, and Dist. 28 Representative Betty Olson, right.

  Fresh from completing the US Farm Bill in the House, Kristi Noem, U.S. Congresswoman for South Dakota, made a pit stop in Bison on Friday afternoon where she visited with approximately 30 constituents.
   The House passed a farm bill the day before in Washington and sent it over to the Senate. Noem took advantage of a few days break to return to South Dakota and to make stops in Buffalo and Bison before heading to Boss Cowman festivities in Lemmon for the weekend.
   The previous five-year Farm Bill in 2008 made no provisions for livestock indemnity during the 5th year, which is now. Noem is hopeful that the new bill can be retroactive to get some help for cattle producers in 2012. The new bill also includes provisions to fight the pine beetle in the Black Hill, she said.
   Area rancher Brad Besler questioned whether CRP had been opened up yet for cutting and feeding. As of Friday, this area had not yet been categorized as a drought but Noem felt confident that it would be soon.  Besler wasn’t the only one who is concerned about the long-term high temperatures and lack of moisture that the area is receiving.
   Ron Harris said, “There’s a tremendous amount of feed (in CRP) for somebody to take advantage of.”
Quentin Gerbracht is concerned about assistance for watering livestock; and independent insurance agent Cindy Kopren stated that her clients are showing a 73% loss in crops.
In the short hour that Noem addressed her Bison audience in an air conditioned Grand Electric Social Room on Friday, she touched on many areas of concern.
•She is especially concerned about the national deficit, which she quoted at $15,888,142,828,944.65 or about $50,000 for every man, woman, and child in this country. Currently, only 1/3 of the dollars that Congress deals with are discretionary, Noem said. Everything else is earmarked. Therefore, without new legislation, no more than that can be spent. “That’s why I’m concerned,” Noem said.
   “It doesn’t make sense to me” that this country is spending money that we don’t have. Every year, budget expenditures exceed revenue in this country. The United States is selling treasury bonds at auction to the highest bidder to close that gap..
   According to Noem, in 1970 foreign holdings of U.S. debt was 5%; in 2010 it had risen to 47%. China holds the vast majority.
   Noem is concerned that “Washington doesn’t prioritize their spending. They’re wasting money,” she said. She said that there have been ten recessions since WWII and the current one is the slowest to bounce back.
   She feels that the conversation in Washington is changing from, “How much can we spend?” to “How much can we cut?”  
   “We have to be able to give our kids the opportunities that we all had,” Noem said.
•She projected that Medicare will be broke in nine years “if we don’t do anything to save it.”  She feels a genuine need to address entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
   In 1950, 16.5 workers supported one person’s Social Security; today there is less than 3 people doing the same thing and the county is now at its fastest rate in history for the number of people signing up every day! At the current rate, Social Security will run out of money in 12 years.
   Teddi Carlson asked what could be done to fix that. “Put more people to work,” was Noem’s reply. Get people off federal assistance and give them a paycheck instead, she said. That way they come off the assistance side and pay into the system instead. Raise every worker’s contribution into the program, Noem said. “We’ve got to have tax reform.”
•Businesses have left because of high corporate taxes and Noem favors incentives to get them to stay.
•Nobody realizes the value of growing our own food, she said. Many in D.C. don’t understand what it’s like to live in rural America. She believes it becomes a national security issue if we let other countries feed us.
•Endangered species were
touched upon by Representative Betty Olson and Max Matthews wants more funding for Wildlife Services to bring back aerial programs.
•Rodney Carr spoke out against the Keystone Pipeline but Noem said that most South Dakotans favor it. However, she would like to be able to tap into that oil instead of shipping it away to other countries.
•PA-C Dan Kvale said that
funding for his clinic would go down if he didn’t use computers for  inputting and assessing patient records and that means that he can see less patients in a day.
That comment sparked a discussion about Obamacare. Noem said that a fundamental change will be that “you will no longer be able to make your medical care decisions.” The creation of 159 more boards and commissions will be making those decisions for us. She termed that “very detrimental to our way of life.”
The question was asked if South Dakota could simply not comply with Obamacare. Noem said that insurance companies may fight it. They don’t think that the feds have the authority to regulate health care, she said.