Congressman Frank Lucas Says the Contents of the Next Farm Bill at the Mercy of the BudgetFri, 31 Mar 2017 15:50:57 CDT
In a recent phone interview, Oklahoma’s 3rd District Congressman and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, told Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays that he has been impressed with the aggressive talk of current House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, in regards to crafting the 2018 Farm Bill in a timely, cost-efficient and effective manner. You can listen to Hays speaking with Congressman Lucas about talks surrounding the 2018 Farm Bill, by clicking or tapping on the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of this story.
“He’s been very aggressive in the hearing schedule,” Lucas said referring to Conaway. “Not only looking at what has gone on in the aftermath of the 2014 Farm Bill but discussing the health of rural American agriculture right now and laying the groundwork for a set of hearings about where we should go.”
The Congressman believes that currently there are several issues weighing on the agricultural industry - namely the record low commodity prices, but also in areas such as dairy and cotton, that for producers would make a lot of sense to get the Farm Bill process started this year, rather than waiting around until the next year. But he says on the flip side of the coin, Conaway’s hands are somewhat tied until he has an idea of what budget confines he will be working within.
This is a subject of contention as the chance of increase cuts in the Farm Bill budget could be at stake. According to Lucas, the House Ag Committee that put the 2014 Farm Bill together, included measures in the policy designed to save money. Apparently, though, the effects of the legislation significantly outperformed expectations. An accomplishment like that is something one would think worth rewarding. Alas, that is not the case in Washington, Lucas derides. In fact, it has had quite the opposite effect. With a demonstration that the bill can operate with less funding, the threat of imposed belt-tightening is now within the realm of possibility.
When asked about what changes will be made in the 2018 Farm Bill compared to the 2014 edition, Lucas simply replied, “The question comes down to how much money will be available to us.”
However, pride is still felt by the Congressman for the effectiveness of the current Farm Bill, that has demonstrated the importance of safety net programs within the legislation, which have often been subject to criticism. He says as ARC has become less effective and PLC more promising - he believes given the chance to renew their coverage, producers will be shifting their policies from ARC to PLC.
“I don’t necessarily feel vindicated,” he said about the assistance provided to producers through the crop insurance programs in the Farm Bill. “I’m just proud to know that we put together a package that we are able to help our neighbors get through the toughest of times.”
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