Audio: Farm Bureau President Says Criticism of Tax Bill Is Cover for Heitkamp


North Dakota State University Ag Week events on April 4 included a panel discussion on how the Trump administration will affect the industry. From left are Dan Wogsland, executive director of the North Dakota Grain Growers Association; Daryl Lies, North Dakota Farm Bureau president; and Carl Peterson, president of Peterson Farms Seed. Photo taken April 4, 2017, in Fargo. (Forum News Service/Agweek/Mikkel Pates)

In recent days there has been a lot of criticism of the Republican tax bill in Congress and its impact on the agriculture industry.

In an interview with theĀ Williston Herald North Dakota Farmer’s Union President Mark Watne suggested that the tax bill will create deficits that will, in turn, result in cuts to farm programs.

Aaron Krauter, Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s running mate during her failed gubernatorial campaign in 2000, has echoed that talking point in recent letters to the state’s newspapers.

But Daryl Lies, head of the North Dakota Farm Bureau, sees these comments as motivated by politics.

“I do not share that concern,” he told me of the deficit talking point adding that it was coming from people “protecting Heidi Heitkamp” or looking to “make a name for themselves” ahead of future campaigns for elected office.

Heitkamp cast a party-line vote against the tax bill in the Senate. Krauter has been fairly transparent about his intent to run for office next year.

“There’s a whole lot of nothing being said by some people in North Dakota,” Lies said.

He also said that, whatever the tax bill’s impact on revenues, the federal government needs spending reform and it should “come at the expense of every program” including farm programs.

“Our members want true reforms,” he said adding they are “done with relief” packages and instead want a “level playing field.”

Here’s our full interview:

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