Five year bill signed by President Barack Obama

Kristina Colhoff, Contributing Writer

The farm bill was signed by President Barack Obama on Feb. 7. This law will spread benefits to farmers all over the country, particularly to farmers in South Dakota that were affected by winter storm Atlas, a blizzard that hit western South Dakota on Oct. 4and 5, 2013.

The farm bill will reduce spending by more than $20 billion through a series of reforms.

The bill will strengthen the livestock disaster program and it will offer a higher reimbursement rate than the Senate version did. The program will also reimburse producers up to 75 percent of the fair market value.

It will also add more tools to fight the pine beetle crisis in South Dakota.

In addition, the bill establishes an Office of Tribal Relations in the United States Department of Agriculture that will help improve communication between the USDA and Tribal nations.

The legislation renews funding for Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT), a program helping states fix roads, hire teachers, pay police officers, and other services.

Atlas recovery is still underway. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service continues to help producers recover from the destructive impacts of the storm. NRCS has been helping hundreds of victims of the storm with technical assistance and also gave more than $2 million in financial relief to help bury or remove livestock carcasses.