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Thune, Johnson support farm bill

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A new five-year farm bill is near the finish line.

Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson showed support for the new farm bill Tuesday, each voting in favor of its passage.

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Thune, a Republican, and Johnson, a Democrat, occupy South Dakota's two seats in the U.S. Senate. They helped the bill pass the Senate by a 68-32 vote.

"South Dakota Farmers Union is very appreciative for the support of Senator Johnson and Senator Thune," South Dakota Farmers Union President Doug Sombke said in a released statement. "They have been leaders on agriculture issues important to our state and have worked hard to represent South Dakota's farmers and ranchers in the farm bill."

The bill -- officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014 -- now awaits signature from President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

Thune is pleased the bill includes livestock assistance and "a secure crop insurance program."

"Every year our agriculture producers harvest the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world at great financial risk, and they deserve the certainty that comes with a new five-year farm bill and sound crop insurance," Thune said in a statement. "In particular, ranchers who are coping with significant 2012 grazing losses and the devastating livestock losses from last October's winter storm Atlas will receive much-needed disaster assistance through the Livestock Forage Program and Livestock Indemnity Program, which I first authored in the 2008 farm bill. This assistance was critical to helping South Dakota ranchers through past disasters, and I worked to ensure this assistance will not expire under the new farm bill."

Johnson also praised the bill.

"With today's vote, we finally have programs and funding in place to help ranchers hit by the Atlas blizzard," Johnson said in a statement. "We can give producers some long-term certainty about the safety net that will be available to them over the next five years, we're protecting our natural resources, we're continuing to feed the hungry, and we're continuing to inform consumers about the origin of their food, all while reducing the deficit. This is a good bill, and the president should sign it into law quickly."

This is the first five-year farm bill that has been approved since 2008. That bill expired in 2012, but was extended until September 2013.

Last week, the House passed the bill by a 251-166 vote. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem voted in favor of the bill, putting all three of South Dakota's federal lawmakers in favor of its passage.

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