House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas talks Farm Bill Direction After Super Committee FailureWed, 07 Dec 2011 11:34:19 CST
The Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, says that a lot was accomplished in the attempt to write a farm bill that could have been attached to the Super Committee recommendations- if that group of 12 lawmakers had been able to get their job done last month in finding $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over a ten year period. Lucas agreed that it was an opportunity lost for agriculture to have gotten five years of spending assurances in place for the federal farm safety net- as well as for conservation and other titles that will make up the 2012 Farm Bill. Congressman Lucas made these comments in an exclusive conversation with Director of Farm Programming for the Radio Oklahoma Network and WWW.OklahomaFarmReport.Com- Ron Hays.
He brushed aside criticism of the Title One language that was developed by he and Chairlady Debbie Stabenow of Michigan by Ranking Member on the Senate Ag Committee Pat Roberts- saying that the job of a Ranking Member is different from that of a Committee Chairman.
Chairman Lucas does believe that now that the farm bill returns to "regular order" in 2012- it will be difficult to escape without having to face deeper budget cuts than the $23 billion over ten years that the Ag Leadership had offered the Super Committee. He also is concerned about the budget baseline shrinking in 2012 as CBO reworks their numbers in the first few months of the new year.
The Congressman noted that the Senate Ag Committee Chairman has called for an aggressive schedule of hearings early in 2012 which should lead to marking up new policy. He made no commitments to doing something similar- in fact, mentioned that we could have to do some sort of short term extension of the 2008 farm law to get us past the election season which is when the current law begins to expire. Chairman Lucas does indicate he prefers to get a farm bill done on time in the first half of 2012.
Other topics that were covered- the fate of Direct Farm Program Payments- Crop Insurance Rates Dropping next crop growing season, the work on the Conservation title in the Hurry Up Closed Door Farm Bill negotiations, Regulations- including the Dust Rule and GIPSA- and a preview of the hearing on Thursday to look at the MF Global debacle and its impact on the US Futures Market.
On the subject of Crop Insurance rates- Congressman Lucas was criticized by the Illinois Corn Growers Association for obstructing the work of the Risk Management Agency at USDA in implementing lower rates for 2012- the Congressman pointed out to us that he indeed asked the RMA to be deliberate in their decision on rates- he signed off on a letter to them with some key members of the House Ag Committee from both sides of the aisle. We have a copy of the letter that you can see that was sent to RMA on this subject- click on the PDF file at the bottom of this story entitled "RMA and FCIC Letter" to read the letter send by a bipartisan group of members of the Committee from different cropping areas of the country.
Click on the Listen Bar below to hear our full visit between Congressman Lucas and Ron Hays.
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