tv Sen. John Thune R-SD CSPAN November 5, 2017 12:09pm-12:36pm EST
what we would do if we had communist aggression in that part of the world in 1954. we said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger and the time came when we had to put up or shut up and we put up and we are there. war, 50 the vietnam years later, next week and on american history tv on c-span3. all weekend, american history tv is featuring sioux falls, south dakota. cities tour staff visited several sites. the city is named for the falls of the big sioux river which runs through the city. learn more about sioux falls all weekend here on american history tv. our visit to sioux falls, we spoke with u.s. senator john thune at a sports complex in the city where his father is honored as a member of
the states basketball hall of fame. we asked the senator about dakota'snt work, south economy and what events in the states history most interest him. >> where were you born and raised? abouthune: a little town 200 miles west of here named after a scottish cattle rancher. interstatell town on 90, very much a stopping place for people who are headed to the black hills, mount rushmore, yellowstone and points beyond. a lot of motels, restaurants, filling stations, all of my siblings worked in one of those types of establishments every summer. >> what was it like growing up in south dakota? sen. thune: a great background. i love the state, it is beautiful to me. i love the prairie. i like wide-open spaces. part of that is because where i
was raised. i am an outdoors person, i loved hunting and fishing and being outdoors, particularly through the different seasons of the year. small townup in a and going to a small school you have opportunities to do a lot of things. you get to try things. i get to participate in the sports, i played in the band, i sang in the choir, my mom insisted i take six years of piano. to become ance fairly well-rounded and balanced person. forives you an appreciation the rural nature of our state and how the midwest fits into the broader american story. growing up in the planes was a great experience. >> when did you get into politics and as you got into politics what is it that you
wanted to share with your about south dakota or outside of south dakota about what matters in south dakota? sen. thune: it is important for people who come from more populated areas to understand what makes us tick out here. there is -- agriculture is our number one industry. my involvement legislatively centers around the agricultural committee. i've been on the committee the entire time i have been in congress. i now chair committee which has a big impact on the landscape in all modesta because of transportation, planes, trains, automobiles, it is technology, the internet, high-speed internet delivered to rural areas of the country. to help people understand that the way of life that we have out here and how important it is to the national narrative. sometimes people live in populated centers of the country
forot have appreciation rural areas of the country and how important they are to us and to our national success and our national prosperity. an elected official is to try and share that message colleagues and appreciation for what makes south dakota tech, what makes and how weica tick need to work together as a country to become stronger as a whole. agriculture, to can you talk about the importance of it here and how it impacts the rest of the united states? sen. thune: it is the number one industry in south dakota and we have about four times as many cattle as we do people. beef and pork and corn and beans and wheat, all of those things
are critical to the state's economy. we feed the world. often times people do not realize, they think where their ind comes from, especially the more populated areas of the country. it helps to deliver that message on a daily basis. if you look at our state and the crops, the commodities we raise and grow here, we feed not only the united states but the world. we fit into that economy in a big way and i think that it is important when we are having debates about farm bills and farm policy that people from other parts of the country understand the significance of that and what it means to the health and vitality of the nation. >> with the farm bill, what are some of the major issues you are focused on? sen. thune: this is a tough time
on the farm. the farm economy has been rough. we had a significant drought this summer in south dakota which will knockdown some of our yields this year. the next farm on bill, trying to identify those areas we think we could start shaping a farm bill effects the economic times we are in. there are 13 titles of farm bills. ivan idea for every title. we rolled out five hills so far. commodity, oneh dealing with disaster, one dealing with forest health, we are trying to look at the range of issues that impact agriculture. for the most part, people want to have a good strong crop insurance program, that has become the cornerstone for agriculture, it is an opportunity for people to insure themselves against the risks and thereith farming
is a conservation of title of the farm bill is something we want to give farmers who want to put more of their lands into conservation programs, that they are able to do that. it is good first oil health, it is an opportunity to generate additional income on the farm. we look for ways we can restructure those programs. and the safety net programs in the farm bill, the disaster program is something i worked on a lot. 2008 i authored a lot of the disaster programs that exist today. i was able to get those extended for the 2014 farm bill. those impact western south dakota where you have a lot of , thehts in 2012 and 2013 livestock program which guided the 28 farm bill -- which guided the 2008 farm bill and helped many of them stay in business. we are always looking for ways
to help ensure that the agricultural sector of our economy stays strong and farmers and ranchers are prosperous and we can preserve that important part of our economy that does feed not only the united states but the world as well. >> what you see is the biggest challenge for south dakota going forward? now, thee: right future of agriculture is bright. to 100adding 80 million million people to the world's population every year. the demand for food is going to increase over time. other countries are stepping into fill some of that but i think the united states is uniquely positioned because of our technology, we are incredibly productive, to continue to grow the opportunity that we have to make a difference, to feed the world. look at the future, i think
it is very bright but a lot of it consists of opening more markets. have the issue of trade is important to south dakota, it is important to agriculture, generally. when you start talking about trade with asia, the trans-pacific partnership, nafta , those are vitally important to the future of agriculture. ,hat is an important thing value added agriculture, we are very into the biofuels industry out here. you can raise corn, you can feed it to livestock, there are many uses for it and one is fuel. we want to look for ways to open up more markets, increase the demand for our agricultural products that helps make farmers, ranchers, in this part of the country and our economy more prosperous and makes the entire economy of the country more prosperous. >> as chairman of the commerce committee, can you tell us the
things you are most concerned about and what you are working on their in regards to south dakota and sioux falls? sen. thune: i have had the chance to be involved in a number of significant infrastructure issues. the farm to market transportation system -- agriculture is about one third -- about one third of what we plant in south dakota has to be exported. that means you have to have trucks, you cap rail, yet cap rail,-- you have to have you have to have ships. toave worked aggressively make sure we have a reliable rail network. we reauthorized the surface transportation board of a few years ago in response to a crisis we had in south dakota and across the entire midwest when it came to rail service issues. i think we made significant improvements that will be helpful in the future.
of course, highways, very important, travel industry in south dakota. you see a lot of traffic on interstate 90, many of the people who are headed to the black hills and mount rushmore and points beyond. investing in our highways and roads, we have increased the funding for the state there. aviation, the area of making sure we have affordable rates when it comes to people using the airline industry in south dakota and making this a place people can get to in a reasonable way is another important feature of what we do in transportation. the other big issue under our committee is technology. service,d internet broadband being made available to any part of the country in the rural areas of south dakota, you may have someone who wants to start a business out of their
living room. as long as they have access to the internet and high-speed services, they are able to do that. there are places in our state and country that do not have that yet here it -- that do not have that yet. we have 16 billion handheld devices in the world today. by 2020 there will be 50 to 100 billion of those. in order to fuel that connectivity we need -- we passed a bill that increases the amount spectrum that is available for commercial use and that benefits not only south dakota that all areas across this country. we are constantly looking for ways that the work that we do happening inat is our economy in south dakota. --se are a couple examples transportation technology, in particular. explain to someone that
lives in california or over on the east coast, where does south dakota fit, how would you describe it to others? sen. thune: a lot of people in those parts of the world describe us as flyover country. i think it is the heart and soul, i think it is the center of gravity in the country. the middle of the country has always been a place where hard work matters, where you value some of those foundational principles that helped build this country and make it strong. who grew lot of people up out here who have to survive tough winters and grow up doing hard things. they develop a work ethic. go, in the united iates or around the world, will visit military installations in other countries and they have had chances to
work with and interact with troops who have been deployed from south dakota. the thing that always pops up is the work ethic. the center of the country is near and dear to the pulse of the country and the people out here are as good as they come. we have a work ethic second to none, we try and create an environment that is welcoming and warm, people are friendly. i am always looking for to promote south dakota and make it a place people want to do business. we have a lot to sell and sometimes that story does not get told. >> as senator of the state, what you find is your biggest challenge? sen. thune: when you represent a rural state, you are always outnumbered in the congress.
the thing about the senate is unique, and i served three terms in the house of representatives. in the house of representatives, california has 54 members and texas has 31 and new york has 29 and we have one. said i can have my discussions in a phone booth. then you have to find ways to build alliances. the senate is not entirely unlike the house, but at least you have equal representation, so you can find states positioned like yours is and build alliances that give you the ability to influence in a more significant way what happens in the senate. i think it is always challenging from a rural state to communicate to those of your colleagues who represent bigger states with big cities why it is important that we have a transportation program, for example, that provides
assistance to interstates and federal highways across south dakota. it is part of a national transportation system. if your are going to be competitive in the global marketplace, you have to have an efficient way to get your goods and people to their destinations. when it comes to agriculture, trying to convince people from other parts of the country why it is important we have farm programs and provide assistance to agriculture that insurers agriculture is prosperous. i think that is probably the biggest challenge it -- the biggest challenge. talking tovitably people, trying to communicate with them about your priorities, trying to get them to bind the things you want to accomplish for your state that in many cases they do not have an appreciation of or understand. like theould you
people of the state to remember you by or what you best represent and what most concerns you as a person who lives in south dakota? want people to think of me as one of them, as a small-town guy who is trying to make a difference for his state and for his country. in terms of the things you want to accomplish legislatively, they revolve around what can you do or have you done to improve the standard of living and the quality of life and the opportunities for the people you represent. forany cases i think that me it is an intergenerational thing. you want to be thinking about that next generation. these kids who grew up in south dakota, that they have good educations and are ready to go wherever their dreams can take them and follow the opportunities.
secondly, to try to create enough opportunities in south dakota that if they choose to stay here, they can. our biggest export is our kids. we raise them, they grow up with that great work ethic and great sent -- great sense of heartland values and then they live somewhere else and raise their families there. for me, it is about providing those opportunities for the next generation and if they want the ,hance to live in south dakota they have the best infrastructure, whether that is roads, highways, whether that is have thece, that they best opportunities and access to technology and health care. one of the things about technology, it makes the world so much smaller and you can live in areas where you may not have sanford, but if you have a community that has some
kind of health service or telemedicine or a way of a dressing health care needs through technology, you can make some of the bridges that sometimes are harder for states -- it is ayou can more reasonable, accessible thing for people in the state. when i look at the state, it is with an eye toward how can we make our young people more successful, give them more opportunities and a chance to raise their families in south dakota. era orhere a certain story about south dakota's history you find interesting? grown up outaving here, you appreciate the history of your hometown and how everything got out here. my grandfather came here from norway in 1906. when they came to alice island,
-- when they came to ellis island, the only words of english they knew were apple pie and coffee. they had a sponsor in south dakota and came here to work on the railroads. that is when they were building the railroads across the country. and learned the language saved enough money to start a merchandising company which later became a hardware store and there is still a hardware store in mitchell, south dakota that bears the name thune hardware. the family is not associated with it, but it is an example of the -- that a couple of norwegian brothers could come to this country and work in our great industry when the railroad was in its heyday and then as entrepreneurs start a business. that is a personal story for me.
i think of the history of the state, there is a of fascinating stories that go back 150 years when people were first started to settle in south dakota. i was just reading a book about calvin coolidge and how he spent the summer of 1927 in the black hills. he announced from rapid city, south dakota that he would not run again for president in 1928. there is a lot of history associated with this state, a lot of great people over the years who called it home and we want to make sure future generations have that opportunity as well. >> why was president coolidge in south dakota? he hadune: they said health issues so we had to get to higher elevations. he just be tilde farm bill so he wanted to come somewhere in the vetoed a- he had just
farm bill so he wanted to come somewhere in the midwest. his staff looked at several , they looked at the black hills and came back and said it is the black hills. the governor of south dakota that the time, they had not even finished the road, they had to hurry to get the road finished. coolidge was there all summer and drove in from custer state park. he spent the morning there and then he would drive the hour back to custer state park and do . lot of fishing that summer he spent a lot of time at rodeos and visited our indian reservations. it is a fascinating story. wentme down to, he somewhere every summer and that particular summer he decided to come to south dakota. >> did he enjoy it? you talk toif people who covered it at that time, you look at the stories that were written at the time, it sounds like you made the most
of the experience. startedked about how he wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats and it was during that , andr that he went up to you can probably attribute mount rushmore to his commitment to it. they had a ceremony up there where the sculptor was there and coolidge committed federal money to it and that is what launched the mount rushmore we know today. withnk he had a lot to do that shrine of democracy getting done. >> why do you choose to read that book? author and local interested in the history of south dakota and curious why did he come to south dakota? we always knew the story, but it -- it wasusting read an interesting read and there a lot of stories about our state's history that do not get told and
need to get told and i'm glad somebody took the time to tell that one. >> where do you see south dakota going in the future, and maybe since we are here in sioux falls, maybe talk about sioux falls as well. sen. thune: sioux falls has become a powerful economic engine. have tremendous -- i talked a little bit about technology and financial services, we have tremendous health care footprint here. it is a huge driver of jobs in our economy. we have two major health care systems that are very regional in we have become a high of terms of shopping, the city continues to grow. kid i used to come down here for basketball tournaments, and at that time sioux falls was 70 or 75,000 people. now is to 50,000 people.
-- now it is 250,000 people. no corporate income tax. a great place to do business. a quality of life that is second to none. sometimes in the winter there are 40 below wind chills and you have to get through that. if you look -- if you want to raise a family and you want to have access to a lot of things, you do not want to deal with traffic and all the things that come with the big city and have all the opportunities in a big city, this is a wonderful place. we are proud of it, i am proud of my entire state, we have a number of communities in my state that are doing well and growing. always a challenge for the smaller communities, the more rural communities, given the changes that have taken place in agriculture, to maintain their populations.
cities like sioux falls are doing great and are a magnet for people of all ages. more youngng a lot people moving back to south dakota and that is encouraging and exciting to me. >> senator, thank you very much. sen. thune: thank you. are cities tour staff recently traveled to sioux falls, south dakota to learn about its history. learn more about sioux falls and other stops on our tour at c-span.com/cities tour. you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. history,n lectures in luis alvarez teaches a class on the factors that led to the 1943 los angeles zoot suit riots. relationses race during the world war ii error and how zoot suit came to mb