Thursday, August 3, 2006

Jack Billion Announces His Agriculture Platform

From A Billion for Governor Press Release


Drought relief—The Billion Administration will ask the Legislature to establish a property tax relief fund that would be used in times of weather disasters to help defray at least some of the property taxes of qualifying farmers and ranchers. The funding resource is the state's budget reserve, which is sometimes called our emergency or rainy day fund. The relief fund will have no negative impact on state or local taxes as the money sets in an account and is replenished and augmented at the end of each year by general fund budget surpluses. Payouts from the fund will be made proportionate to the fund balance.


Enforce South Dakota's current country of origin labeling (COOL) law—The Billion Administration will enforce South Dakota's existing COOL law, on the books since 1964: SDCL 39-5-5. Then Attorney General Bill Janklow wrote an opinion in 1978 saying that he felt the statute was likely constitutional. The Billion Administration would enforce the measure – until the federal government lives up to its obligation to implement federal mandatory COOL which was passed more than a year ago by Congress but was never allowed to be implemented by the White House. We will also vigorously enforce SDCL 5-19-1.1 concerning the importing of non-US meat purchased with public funds. Furthermore, we will abide by the legislative directive for meat imports and exports expressed in SDCL 38-1-38.1, particularly federal COOL legislation. The Billion Administration will look to Montana and other states that have similar laws to develop administrative rules to most effectively implement the COOL law.


Require the Purchase of E-85, Bio diesel, flex fuel, and hybrid vehicles for the state motor pool— The Billion Administration believes that South Dakota state government must be a leader in fuel efficiency and helping to stimulate demand for flex fuels. We will require all new state vehicles must be flex fuel vehicles that use bio fuels. Also, as practical, we will purchase hybrid vehicles that can run on flex fuels and other renewable energy sources.


CREATE A STATE RENEWABLE FUELS STANDARD –The Billion Administration will introduce legislation to set goals and time lines to increase production and consumption of fuels from the farm. We want to increase use of E-85 to 200 million gallons by 2015. We will promote the installation of blender pumps with new E-85 pumps. We will also include bio-diesel to increase consumption similarly to the increase in E-85 consumption.


DEVELOP WIND ENERGY IN SOUTH DAKOTA – The Billion Administration's state Renewable Fuel Standard ("RFS") would also seek to increase the use of electricity generated by wind energy inside South Dakota dramatically within five years. We will promote a community-based energy strategy to keep the benefits of wind energy investments inside South Dakota. Also, we will promote a system strategy which includes energy conversion options.


Preference for in-state providers of bio fuels—The Billion Administration will prioritize the consideration of in-state bidders to provide ethanol, E-85, bio-diesel, and other bio fuels for in state contracts for such fuels.


RE-ESTABLISH THE AGRICULTURAL MARKETING OFFICE WITHIN THE S.D. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE—The Billion Administration will reestablish the Agricultural Marketing Office within the Department of Agriculture, started by Governor Dick Kneip and subsequently shut down. We will provide leadership and insight to producers to respond to the demand for niche marketing and seek new ways to improve the prices they receive.


DE-POLITICIZE THE BRAND BOARD--The Billion Administration will make appointments on the basis of expertise and not politics. We will appoint knowledgeable livestock raisers and others which will allow the board to carry out their functions fairly and apolitically, and in a financially prudent manner.


FULLY COMMIT TO THE "SOUTH DAKOTA CERTIFIED BEEF" CONCEPT— The Billion Administration will encourage the construction of beef processing plants which process 500 to 1,500 head per day. We will develop an aggressive marketing strategy for out-of-state sales of South Dakota Certified Beef. Additionally, we will work with Congress and the USDA to amend beef inspection regulations to allow South Dakota-inspected beef to be sold across state lines. South Dakota's meat inspection standards are tougher than federal standards, so let's eliminate the bureaucratic bottleneck.


PUSH FOR PERMANENT DISASTER LEGISLATION AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL – The Billion Administration will work with the state's Congressional delegation and the President to pass permanent disaster legislation that regularizes the criteria and funding for weather related crop and livestock losses.


FUND AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH – The Billion Administration will develop programs to funnel state, federal and private monies to SDSU and other in-state research organizations to finance agriculture-related research. Major priorities for research would include alternative fuels development and bio-technology.


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