Lucas and Ag Secretary Vilsack Commemorate One-Year Anniversary of 2014 Farm BillFri, 30 Jan 2015 16:07:14 CST
Praise was flowing both ways as the one year anniversary of the enactment of the 2014 Farm Bill was celebrated at townhall session at Redlands Community College in El Reno, Oklahoma. Former House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas praised U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack in getting the Farm Bill deal done.
"While the Secretary and I may not necessarily agree on every comma or every dotted 'i' at every stage of the way and more often the tougher it got, the more frequent the secretary demonstrated a willingness to work with me and my cohorts to act as a catalyst, because secretary understood and appreciated, as an old Governor from Iowa. No offence, Secretary, but I explained at my town hall meetings, Iowa is a corn field with some cities in it. That's actually a compliment by the way. Secretary had an understanding and appreciation for what we had to do and his people at our disposal and there were times when as he once told me, if encouraging publicly or privately with various members of leadership will help, I will. If criticizing you helps, I will. But he understands the importance of getting it done and we got it done."
At the same time, Secretary Vilsack praised the leadership of Congressman Lucas in getting the Farm Bill across the finish line.
"No one in the Congress had a greater feel and a greater connection to people in rural areas and to producers than Frank Lucas," Vilsack said. "And because of that concern, which was shared by Collin Peterson, an equally diligent and effective leader on the Democrat side. And on the Senate side, certainly Senator Stabenow really worked very hard to get this done, Senator Roberts as well. The key here was basically working and not giving up and Frank Lucas did not give up. And he understands why this was so important to get done."
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays attended the townhall celebration. Click on the LISTENBAR below or on the below link to listen to comments from Secretary Vilsack and Congressman Lucas.
The 2014 Farm Bill legislation has strengthened several agricultural programs, such as crop insurance, while increasing accountability by repealing direct payments and tightening eligibility requirements. Vilsack said the bill is making a difference in Rural America and rural Oklahoma.
"I am glad to be in Oklahoma today to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Farm Bill," said Secretary Vilsack. "The Farm Bill has already created jobs, helped farmers reach new markets at home and abroad and boosted the country's economy. This bill has provided much needed disaster relief and reformed programs to better help farmers manage risk. It has also helped families secure home loans, extended credit to small businesses, and invested in innovative research and conservation partnerships in every state. I want to thank Chairman Lucas once again for his hard work in getting this bipartisan bill through Congress and to the President's desk."
"I appreciate Secretary Vilsack joining me in this forum to discuss the Farm Bill and address the legislation's implementation with constituents," said Congressman Lucas. "In addition to saving taxpayers $23 billion, this Farm Bill provides a true safetynet to producers in Oklahoma and the rest of the country. As I stressed during the creation process, the Farm Bill is not written for the good times, but for when times aren't so good. I am proud of the work we did and look forward to working with the Secretary in continuing to effectively implement the important reforms included in this Farm Bill."
In an impromptu news conference after the town hall meeting, Secretary Vilsack and Congressman Lucas took questions from members of the media. Lucas was asked how this Farm Bill has been good for Oklahoma to this point.
"If you at the money that has been paid out in drought disaster programs to livestock in particular, almost $900 billion in Oklahoma alone," Lucas said.
When the House Ag Committee started writing the Farm Bill, prices were much stronger with corn about double what it is today and many thought that trend would continue. With much lower commodity prices, Lucas said this will test the safety net.
"We are going to figure out just how well the safety net works," Lucas said. "There is a safety net there and we are getting all the cobwebs out of it. It is there, that is the important part. Had we not passed a Farm Bill, the '38 and '49 laws would not have continued on the books. They were impossible to implement. We would have wound up with nothing. Explain that to your banker, or your father-in-law or your landlord. Nothing."
Implementation of the Farm Bill began in April 2014 with the disaster assistance program for livestock producers and gradually the other pieces like the farm safety net and conservation programs have come out from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hays asked Congressman Lucas how he would rate USDA for implementation of the Farm Bill.
"Considering the magnitude of the challenges they've had, I will give them an A-," Lucas said. "No member of Congress can ever give them an A+, that just wouldn't be right. I give them an A- and that's a pretty good score, sir."
Vilsack responded he was pretty happy with an A-. One year into the enactment of the Farm Bill, Vilsack said there is more work to be done, but he said they are on schedule to get that accomplished.
You can listen to the opening comments of Congressman Lucas and US Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack by clicking here.
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