Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas Talks Pandemic, Ag Relief and Calving Season on the Road to Rural ProsperityWed, 08 Apr 2020 05:45:31 CDT
Like many Oklahoma ranches it is calving season on the Frank and Lynda Lucas ranch in Roger Mills County. The challenges unique to keeping close watch on the herd are serving as a distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic swirling about our lives. That is especially true for Congressman Lucas, who, as many of you know, serves in the U.S. House of Representatives for Oklahoma’s 3rd congressional district.
Congressman Lucas joined Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays on the phone Tuesday afternoon as a guest on the RON Road to Rural Prosperity podcast. Lucas addressed a number of issues surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, including the CARES Act, helping the agriculture industry recover and improving broadband access for rural America.
Click on the PLAY BUTTON in the AUDIO Box Below to listen to this latest Road to Rural Prosperity, sponsored in part this week by the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, Click here to jump to their website where they have many valuable resources for educators, parents and students during this COVID-19 outbreak.
Lucas has been “sheltering in place” on the ranch since Congress recessed about three weeks ago.
“Lynda Lucas has instructed me to help with calving season whenever I am not talking to staff or constituents via phone and on conference calls,” Congressman Lucas said. Lucas has closed all his offices and instructed staff to continue working from home.
The Oklahoma congressman’s position on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology gives him a unique perspective of how we are using science to recover from this pandemic.
While participating in numerous sessions with the CDC, I know that 80 percent of the population will recover just fine, Lucas said. We must protect the other 20 percent. I am confident we will have a vaccine in one to one and a half years. Hopefully sooner than later, he said.
Lucas noted the aid packages passed by Congress will help the economy and boost our health care system.
“Two trillion dollars is a lot of money,” Lucas said. “We cannot let agriculture, main street and our industrial base collapse.”
The Oklahoma rancher and former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee is pleased agriculture received a share of the funds included in the CARES Act.
Lucas said there is $55 million for APHIS, $33 million for the Food Safety Inspection Service and $45 million for the Ag Marketing Services. He is also pleased that $14 billion will replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation revolving fund.
There is also $9.5 billion earmarked for coronavirus response. Lucas said he is not sure how USDA Sec. Perdue will use this money but suggested he could use past disaster programs as a template.
Lucas targeted specific comments aimed at resolving the disparity between boxed beef prices and the cash cattle market. Once this is over, we will need to address this and there will be action taken, Lucas said. He said the processing plants must be focused now on taking care of their workers. We must protect our workers and keep product moving, Lucas said.
One particular point of interest mentioned by Cong. Lucas was the importance of broadband access in rural America. With so many people forced to work from home, the system is under great pressure, Lucas said. We expect to have high quality access and if that does not happen, rural areas will lose families moving to urban areas where access is more reliable, Lucas said.
The Oklahoma congressman assured us he is focused on making sure relief programs are working and identifying where there are needs.
“It’s my responsibility to make sure people have the tools to survive and to make sure we don’t go through this again,” Lucas said.
This is Episode 28 in the Road to Rural Prosperity series- click or tap here to learn more about our ongoing series to spotlight key players in the effort to strive for excellence in the state of Oklahoma.
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