U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, visited Aberdeen Monday Nov. 21, to chat with the Aberdeen Sertoma Club and students at Roncalli and Central high schools.
At the high schools, Johnson answered questions from the students about his job as a representative and time with the state, as well as questions like how much time he spends in Washington, D.C., and what it takes to get votes.
One Roncalli student asked if he liked his job, to which Johnson said he likes most of the people and the fact that he gets to help South Dakotans.
“I don’t like the meanness that we see in politics these days,” he said, adding he wanted people to get along better.
He used the analogy of there being one or two students who misbehave and disrupt the entire class, and the same is true in Congress, he said.
At one point during his visit with Roncalli students, Johnson took a BeReal photo with a group of kids. At the end of the presentation, students had the opportunity to take individual photos with him.
The Sertoma Club sponsors community projects meant to assist youth, “promote freedom and democracy” and assist in a variety of other needs such as helping those with speech, hearing and language impairments.
During lunch with the Sertoma Club, Johnson focused more on policies and talking about “the path forward,” he said that afternoon. Topics included things like border control and national debt.
“We have a tendency to focus on the toxicity and some of the negativity. I do think in each of those areas, there is room for optimism,” Johnson said.
For instance, he said, there is a growing bi-partisan effort for southern border security. Johnson said he’s hopeful something comes out of that by the end of the year.
Johnson wins prestigious Farm Bureau award
Johnson was recently awarded the Golden Plow by the American Farm Bureau Federation. The award is given to one member of the House each year who “exemplifies agricultural leadership.”
“It’s an honor and I think it shows that our team just really tries to get things done, and I’m grateful to be recognized for that.” Johnson said.
The Farm Bureau Federation is one of the largest lobbying groups in the agriculture industry, and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The organization’s goal is to advocate for farm and ranch families.
“In an environment where food security is national security,” Johnson said, “I think more Americans are paying attention to how our food is grown and raised … where and how it’s processed. And they want to make sure we … have a marketplace that is where family producers are able to succeed.”
Bills focused on agriculture, South Dakota
Last congressional session, Johnson helped pass a number of bills dealing with cattle markets, such as the Cattle Contracts Library pilot program and the Butcher Block Act.
Johnson said this year he’s been working on a number of farm- and South Dakota-focused bills, one of which would prevent China from purchasing American farmland or engaging in American agricultural processing.
“The strategic competition that we have with China is going to define the next 50 years like our strategic competition with the Soviet Union defined the 50 years of the Cold War,” he said. “I don’t think our country is focused enough on that competition yet.”
Earlier this year, Johnson introduced a bill to protect the Wounded Knee Massacre site.
The Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Protection Act passed out of the House a few months ago and recently made it out of a Senate committee, so it is close to getting signed into law, he said.
Johnson’s other goals for the end of the term include expanding work requirements for able-bodied Americans on welfare, a five-year Farm Bill and further curbing the national debt.
“It’s a hard environment to work in,” he said of Congress. “I do find that time in South Dakota fills up my bucket, you know, when you’re talking to real people. … It reminds me of why this work is important. I think when members of Congress spend too much time in D.C., they get too focused on the D.C. race as opposed to remembering the big picture about what we are trying to do.”