Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D Minn) held a field hearing in Sioux Falls, S.D. to review U.S. agriculture policy as the Committee begins the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill. This is the eighth in a series of hearings scheduled across the country to consider new ideas regarding Federal food and farm policy. Twelve Members of Congress attended today's hearing and heard testimony from eleven witnesses on a variety of farm policy issues.

"I am glad that the Agriculture Committee was able to hear from my neighbors in South Dakota about the opportunities and challenges facing agriculture producers in this part of the country," Chairman Peterson said. "Just as agriculture producers have to adapt to stay in business, the Farm Bill also has to evolve so it continues to provide a safety net that works in South Dakota and nationwide."

According to USDA statistics, South Dakota ranks fifth in the nation for sheep and goat production as well as eighth in cattle production. More than 2.3 million acres of land in South Dakota are enrolled in USDA conservation programs.

Approximately 175 members of the community attended the hearing, including local agriculture producers and leaders. Many more watched the hearing online via a live video feed on the House Agriculture Committee's website.

House Agriculture Committee Members attending the hearing included: Chairman Peterson; Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota; Congressman Timothy Walz of Minnesota; Congresswoman Betsy Markey of Colorado; Congressman Larry Kissell of North Carolina; Congressman Travis Childers of Mississippi; Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia who serves as the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research; Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama; Congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska who serves as the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry; Congressman K. Michael Conaway of Texas who serves as the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Development, Biotechnology, Specialty Crops and Foreign Agriculture; Congressman Adrian Smith of Nebraska; and Congressman Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania.

"Congress passes a new Farm Bill every five years, and it's critical that factors affecting South Dakota are heard and understood as this legislation is drafted," Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said. "That's why I'm pleased that the Agriculture Committee had an opportunity to hear about a diverse range of issues in South Dakota affected by the Farm Bill at today's hearing.

"Economies in the Great Plains have remained stable and relatively healthy during a significant national economic downturn, due largely to agriculture's influence," Congressman Jeff Fortenberry said. "The Heartland is well positioned to lead our economic recovery, with specialized opportunities in food and energy production. I was pleased to hear from ag producers today about ways to craft good farm policies that will shape agricultural opportunity for coming generations of American farmers."

"As we begin our work on the new farm bill, we need to make smarter and better targeted investments that provides a strong safety net for our producers and fosters a stronger rural economy," Congressman Tim Walz said. "Agriculture is absolutely critical to our rural economies and communities. Also, as we target the growing national debt we need to make sure that our investments are producing good outcomes. Today's hearing was focused on hearing what's working well and what we'll need to address as we craft the next farm bill."

"Agriculture has a role in the economic, social, and environmental outlook of not only our country, but the entire planet.  We should be working to create policies which will strengthen American agriculture and provide long-term stability for our nation's producers to compete in the international marketplace.  Such economic policies will foster sustained growth in rural communities," Congressman Adrian Smith said. "My goal for the next Farm Bill is to build on the successes we have heard about in previous field hearings and to craft policies which will provide long-term stability for our nation's producers."

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is available on the Committee website ,