4:05 AM EDT, June 14, 2013
SIOUX FALLS (AP) - South Dakota's Democratic Party is criticizing Republican U.S. Sen. John Thune for opposing the farm bill that has passed the Senate.
Thune issued a statement Monday saying the Senate missed an opportunity to improve federal agriculture policy, while his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Tim Johnson, voted in favor of the bill.
Thune said the Senate bill reauthorizes an outdated program, and fails to rein in redundancy and waste.
"Many of us were eager to offer amendments to the bill in an attempt to fix some of these problems coming out of committee," Thune said. "However, despite more than 200 amendments being filed, including two I offered that would have saved taxpayers more than $5 billion, only 14 farm bill amendments were considered and voted on prior to final passage. For these reasons, I was unable to support the final bill."
South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf issued a statement saying Thune had pandered to "Washington conservatives who have no idea how farming works in South Dakota."
The five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill passed by the Senate on Monday on a bipartisan 66-27 vote expands government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts to food stamps. It also eliminates subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not.
Thune said that as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee he would continue fighting for "a reform-minded farm bill."
Johnson said the Senate bill would ensure the continued integrity of farm programs, reduce the budget deficit and support the millions of jobs nationwide that rely on agriculture.
"The Senate has once again done its work, and the House needs to act so that we can give our farmers and ranchers the certainty they deserve," Johnson said.
The House is to take up its version of the farm bill later this month.