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Three Republicans exchange views in debate for US House nomination

Candidates Dusty Johnson, Shantel Krebs and Neal Tapio stood before the cameras of South Dakota Public Television for a debate Thursday. The three Republicans seek their party's nomination in the June 5 primary election for South Dakota's seat in...

Candidates Dusty Johnson, Shantel Krebs and Neal Tapio stood before the cameras of South Dakota Public Television for a debate Thursday.

The three Republicans seek their party's nomination in the June 5 primary election for South Dakota's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The winner faces Democrat Tim Bjorkman, a retired state circuit judge. Each wants to succeed four-term U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican who's running for governor.

Johnson was an elected member of the state Public Utilities Commission for six years and served as chief of staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard during the first term. He stepped down in 2014 and joined a telecommunications company in Mitchell.

Krebs was a Sioux Falls-area businesswoman who served 10 years in the state Legislature and won election as secretary of state in 2014.

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Tapio is a businessman serving his first term in the state Senate.

On the question of how to convince other House members about the importance of the Farm Bill, Johnson said it is more than 600 pages and described himself as one of the few in South Dakota who's read every page.

The Republican-majority House recently failed to pass the Farm Bill. "There is some doubt Congress is going to get it done (this year)," Johnson said. He wants to serve on the House Agriculture Committee if elected.

"And I understand how all these pieces fit together," Johnson said.

Tapio said he has been executive director for an ethanol trade association and met with cooperatives throughout the nation. He said his grandparents and his brother are farmers.

"Understanding how the process works is the first step," Tapio said. "We have to have a strong agriculture background."

He added, "We have to have legislation that protects people at the bottom of the food chain."

Krebs said 80 percent of the $1 trillion Farm Bill is welfare assistance. She noted she is the only Republican candidate who was born and raised on a farm.

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She said it is important the Farm Bill provide safety nets for farmers and ranchers against natural disasters. She also called for welfare reform and extending the renewable fuels standards.

She added: "Our farmers and ranchers are over-regulated."

Johnson said he's looking forward to serving on the agriculture panel. "It's critically important to South Dakota," Johnson said.

Tapio said he would be an ally of all of the farm organizations in the state including Farm Bureau, Farmers Union and Corn Growers.

Krebs said the Farm Bill must serve to open markets. "We export to the world," she said.

Related Topics: DUSTY JOHNSON
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