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Noem headed for House Ag Committee

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., has apparently won a seat on the House Agriculture Committee, succeeding Rep. Steven Fincher, R-Tenn., who vacated it to take a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.

Noem announced on her campaign website last week that the House Republican Steering Committee, which helps make committee assignments, had approved her for the Agriculture slot, but that the full House Republican Conference would still have to ratify the selection. Noem said she would remain on the Education and Workforce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.

Assuming Noem is ratified for the position, her assignment would resolve what has been a major issue in Republican and farm circles in the Dakotas: that neither Noem nor Rep. Norm Berg, R-N.D., had joined the Agriculture committee, even though agriculture is so important in both states.

Noem defeated Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Berg defeated Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., in the 2010 elections. Sandlin and Pomeroy both served on the Agriculture committee.

“As someone who grew up on a South Dakota farm and ranch operation, and continued there until I ran for Congress, I understand first-hand how agriculture impacts our state’s economy and why it is our number one industry. I had always planned on serving as a strong voice for South Dakota ag. Now this new committee appointment makes it official,” Noem said in a campaign news release.

Fincher, who owns a 2,500 acre farm in Tennessee, was profiled in many media accounts during the 2010 election campaign and afterward. Fincher said in a news release that the assignment on the Financial Services Committee would allow him to serve the Memphis banking community “as well as ensuring rural areas have a voice in policies impacting the flow of capital.”

Fincher spokeswoman Sara Sendek also said that the spot on Financial Services would allow Fincher an opportunity to use his farm background to bring up agriculture’s financial needs, including “access to capital, lending and ability to hedge risk,” the National Journal reported on Friday.