House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas Addresses Farm Bill Rollout After Winning GOP BidWed, 25 Jun 2014 12:32:10 CDT
Oklahoma Third District Congressman Frank Lucas says passing a new Farm Bill into law was one the key reasons he garnished 83 percent of the vote in the primary election Tuesday. And its not just Lucas, other federal delegates who voted for the Farm Bill also received the majority of the votes in their district with Congressman Tom Cole receiving 84 percent and Congressman Markwayne Mullin receiving 79 percent of the primary election votes.
"That was endorsement by the folks in rural Oklahoma that the 2014 Farm Bill really was in their best interest and was really in the best interest of all farmers and ranchers," Lucas said. "I am particularly pleased with that."
In a interview with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays, Lucas addressed the rollout of the Farm Bill. In April the first part of the 2014 Agriculture Act to be rolled out was the Livestock Disaster Assistance programs for cattle producers who have suffered from severe drought and wildfires. Lucas says the program language that came out of conference committee closely resembles the 2008 legislation in order to minimize the amount of rule making and implementation problems USDA has had in the past. He says slowness in getting applications processed are three different software platforms not working together.
"What it amounts to is because everything won't speak to everything else in their computer system, they have had to mechanically do it, to manually fill out the forms," Lucas said.
In talking with US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, Lucas has been assured the best minds at IBM are working on the problem. Lucas encourages producers to be patient, get an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office, have the necessary documentation and be prompt in filling out the paperwork. He says it is worth producers time
"For now if its paper and pencil, you still need to do it," Lucas said. "That's what I tell my neighbors, you still need to go in and do it cause it is just too important to help you overcome what we've been going through in the last three and half years."
"Even though we have had rain in the last three and half weeks, even though the grass is green in my part of Oklahoma, there is no sub-soil moisture, so if it stops raining and we go back to typical summertime conditions, this burst of forage we have right now will be gone," Lucas said.
In the new Farm Bill there have been significant changes to the commodity safety net. Land-grant institutions like Oklahoma State University have received grants to provided educational resources to crop producers. Lucas believes it will take time for USDA to finish the programs to get that information to universities, then out to the countryside so producers can begin to look at their choices. Producers will be making a five year commitment and he says producers will need as much information as possible.
"You have choices, that's the beautiful part about the 2014 Farm Bill," Lucas said. "You have choices to help you determine what is in your best interest instead of this old concept that one shoe that fits all feet, which is not the case in a diverse country like this."
Lucas encourages producers continue to work with the FSA, OSU and other entities as the information becomes available to them.
Hays and Lucas also talked about the nutrition title of Farm Bill. Lucas signaled if Republicans seize control in the US Senate, then nutrition program will be revisited and additional cuts could be made. Nutrition programs account for approximately 80 percent of the Farm Bill and more than 47 million Americans are receiving nutritional program benefits.
Click on the LISTEN BAR to listen to Chairman Lucas and Ron Hays as they talk about the rollout of the 2014 Farm Bill.
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