Congressman Frank Lucas Talks White House Ag Meeting- and the 2018 Farm Bill Proposal with Ron HaysFri, 13 Apr 2018 11:14:49 CDT
Former Chair of the House Ag Committee, Frank Lucas, spent part of his Thursday with other lawmakers and a few Governors at the White House meeting with President Donald Trump talking agriculture. Congressman Lucas was impressed that the President that President wanted to talk about a variety of Ag Issues with the gathering- "You know, when you get an hour and a half with the President's time on a single subjkect, that's pretty impressive which says something about his concern for rural America."
Congressman Lucas says that they talked about a broad set of topics, including getting a farm bill complete and signed into law, the talks with China and tariffs, NAFTA and TPP. He says that the President believes great progress is getting done on NAFTA, without giving a specific timeline on completing those talks.
On the subject of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which has been completed without the United States, Hays asked Lucas how US could get back in on that trade deal. Lucas says "All I know Ron is that the President is a negotiator- he's a wheeler dealer, dealing with people, calling their bluff, moving the ball around- he didn't become a multi billionaire by not making a deal in his best interest- I have to give him the benefit of the doubt to make a deal in our best interest."
The conversation moved on to the 2019 Farm Bill proposal unveiled by House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway on Thursday. Clearly, there is tension between the Chairman and the Ranking member over the SNAP reforms that Chairman Conaway is touting- as farm broadcaster Mike Adams reported on Friday morning that Ranking Member COlin Peterson told him that he had not talked to the Chairman in four weeks- and called the Conaway proposal a "joke and a sham." Lucas took an optimistic approach that a farm bill can be worked on and passed out of the Committee this coming week. "Being a former Chairman of the Ag Committee, I have a role kinda like someone's old Uncle- so I spend time talking to everybody- I spend time working with everybody on both sides of the room- both sides of the Committee to move the process forward." While Lucas did not specifically say he had talked with Colin Peterson, "I am visiting with both Democrats and Republicans" and urging them to discuss the base bill in the Committee, make improvements but move it on to the floor so major issues within the bill can be voted on by all 435 members of the House. The major issues he was pointing to were mostly the SNAP reforms championed by Conaway.
Hays and Lucas worked their way through the Conservation and Safety Net parts of the bill, along with the new money found to start modernizing and enlarging a Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank. The former Chairman is pleased that the ground braking work in 2013 and 2014 on the Commodity Title will be the basis of the Commodity title in 2018 with ARC and PLC still offering the Safety Net to producers- with producers getting a chance to rethink which program is best for them.
Congressman Lucas remains hopeful that a bill will move out of the Committee this coming week and get floor time soon after- he is concerned about missing the window of opportunity and not getting a new farm bill in place by the end of September.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the complete conversation between former Chairman Lucas and Ron Hays.
Ron Hays talks ag issues with Congressman Frank Lucas
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