Noem a fit for ag committee

ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has answered one of the biggest knocks against her by gaining a seat on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

ABERDEEN, S.D. -- Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has answered one of the biggest knocks against her by gaining a seat on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.

Since she took office in January, critics have chided Noem for missing out on a chance to serve on the agriculture committee. The Noem-ag problem has been a consistent theme of letters to the editor in South Dakota newspapers.

It would have been unusual had Noem not served on ag; South Dakota consistently has been represented there for years. Agriculture is the lifeblood of this region, and the interests of South Dakotans must be represented in Washington.

Maybe Noem didn't think the ag committee assignment was important; she said as much in several interviews earlier this year. The most damaging quote came when the Argus Leader of Sioux Falls, S.D., in January asked if she was concerned that this was the first time in 30 years that South Dakota wasn't represented on ag.

"No, it's not a concern, although that's a very important thing that I'm extremely passionate about," Noem told the paper. "I'm still going to be a big player in this farm bill."


South Dakotans let her know that an ag committee assignment should be a prime concern. To her credit, Noem recognized this disconnect. When a seat opened up on ag, she worked to gain entry.

"As someone who grew up on a South Dakota farm and ranch operation and continued there until I ran for Congress, I understand firsthand how agriculture impacts our state's economy and why it is our No. 1 industry," Noem said in a news release. "I had always planned on serving as a strong voice for South Dakota ag. Now this new committee appointment makes it official."

Now she'll have a real say during the ongoing farm bill negotiations -- setting the course for agriculture for the next several years.

Speaking for the state

Coupled with her freshman leadership position, Noem is in a good place to speak up for South Dakota. She will continue to serve on the Education and Workforce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.

We can't imagine another job that can prepare a person for his or her first year in Congress. There are bound to be a couple of stumbles or missed opportunities.

For instance, Noem took flak for not opening an Aberdeen, S.D., office right after taking office. The concern was justified; Aberdeen is home base to a large portion of the state. She eventually addressed that by opening an office in the South Dakota Capitol Building -- open one day a week or by appointment, but open nonetheless.

Better late than never. We'd rather our representatives recognize their missteps, listen to the people and take action to best represent their constituents -- rather than stubbornly refuse to budge.

Related Topics: SOUTH DAKOTA
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