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Published June 04, 2009, 03:10 PM

Sen. Johnson stresses S.D. priorities in hearing with U.S. ag secretary

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D., today highlighted South Dakota priorities included in the Obama Administration’s fiscal-year 2010 budget request with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to a news release from Johnson's office.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D., today highlighted South Dakota priorities included in the Obama Administration’s fiscal-year 2010 budget request with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to a news release from Johnson's office.

Johnson spoke about the significance of providing resources to implement Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and reasonable payment limitations during the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing this afternoon.

“Agriculture plays an important role in South Dakota, and has a $21.3 billion per year impact on the economy of our state," Johnson said in the release. "As I told Secretary Vilsack during the hearing today, I will continue to fight for every last dollar to make sure important programs like COOL get properly implemented. These programs are good for rural America and they are particularly important for our state.”

Johnson has worked for years to implement COOL since he authored the provision in the 2002 Farm Bill. COOL passed Congress and was signed into law again in the 2008 Farm Bill, and the Obama administration is requesting resources that Johnson hopes will finally properly fund the program.

Also at the hearing today, Johnson voiced his opposition to the administration’s proposed $500,000 annual sales revenue cap for direct payments for farmers and ranchers. The cap would have a negative impact on their bottom line during tough economic times, Johnson said, because gross sales do not reflect farm income. Johnson does support a $250,000 hard payment limitations cap.

“I am looking forward to working with President Obama and the administration to fund common-sense programs that move our ag community forward," Johnson said in the release. "The hearing was a good first step, and I appreciate Secretary Vilsack addressing our subcommittee today."

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