House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas Cheering On Senator Stabenow as She Pushes for Farm Bill Passage in SenateThu, 31 May 2012 13:41:27 CDT
With Senate debate to begin as early as next week on the Senate Ag Committee's 2012 Farm Bill proposal, the Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, says that he is hopeful that Chairlady Debbie Stabenow will be able to shepherd some version of her Committee's proposal through the full Senate, setting up a path for a possible conference between the House and Senate Ag Leadership later in the summer to finalize a new five year farm bill- what he calls "the real farm bill- the ultimate farm bill."
Congressman Lucas, in talking with Farm Director Ron Hays on Thursday from his office in Washington, says that he has as his next goal to get a proposal through the House Ag Committee before the Fourth of July recess. If that happens and the Senate passes their version of farm policy, Lucas believes that gives him an argument for floor time with the Speaker of the House, John Boehner of Ohio.
Lucas addressed the rocks being thrown at policy ideas that are being considered for the 2012 Farm Bill by a variety of groups that don't want money to be spent on agricultural subsidies. One group that was decrying the federal government investment into Crop Insurance earlier on Thursday, is the Environmental Working Group. The EWG believes that the subsidies paid on behalf of producers by the federal government to give them incentive to buy crop insurance should be identified on an individual basis- a public record established that shows how much every farmer receives. EWG contends too many dollars have been allowed to go to Crop Insurance subsidies with no oversight or transparency, no program payment caps and no means testing. Lucas says that it's important to establish the biggest possible pool of production to spread the risk out over more acres. Lucas adds that producers who may be receiving larger crop insurance premium subsidies are farmers who are stepping up and paying more themselves as they insure more acres of production, as they provide food and fiber for America and the world.
Lucas talked with Hays about the process of crafting a new five year farm bill as he talks about the Senate Farm Bill proposal, what a Chairman's Mark would look like, his timeline for marking up a bill in Committee and how that may play out in getting floor time in the House and then finishing things in a Conference with Senate Ag Committee Chairlady Stabenow. Among some of the key points-
Lucas is hopeful that a Chairman's mark would come from both he and ranking minority member Colin Peterson- adding that work is being now to put all of that in place.
The Chairman continues to talk about "choice" for producers- that is to allow them at program signup to choose either a "shallow loss" style program or a target price program that would offer more of a safety net if there are big commodity price drops.
Lucas wants a House Ag Committee Farm Bill Proposal to be backed by most of the members of the Committee- to present a united front on the House floor.
Lucas sees the need to have $33 billion savings over a ten year period in the next Farm Bill- he contends it will take that level of savings to get a bill passed across the House floor.
Lucas called the HSUS-UEP egg production bill that could be a proposed amendment in the Farm Bill process is a "flawed" concept as developed in California and should not be pushed onto the other 49 states at the federal level.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full conversation that Chairman Lucas had with Ron Hays on Thursday afternoon.
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