Future Dust Bowl Worries Overshadowed By Political Uncertainty, Lucas SaysTue, 06 Nov 2012 15:44:46 CST
Conservation was the topic of the evening in Stillwater Monday at a preview of the latest Ken Burns documentary on the Dust Bowl. Oklahoma Congressman and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas was in attendance and participated in a roundtable discussion following the screening.
In an interview with the Oklahoma Farm Report, Lucas said the prospect of drought continuing into a third year is on the minds of a lot of producers in western Oklahoma. He said he believes conservation practices already in place will go a long way toward preventing a recurrence of the Dust Bowl, but he said farmers are far more concerned with the political climate. He said the delay in passing the 2012 farm bill will, eventually, result in some damage to conservation programs, but farmers are having a difficult time with management decisions that need to be made now. He said need to get a new farm bill passed following the general election is crucial.
“Different provisions of the 2008 farm bill expire at different rates. Most of the conservation programs, essentially, are OK, but we need to get it done. We need the certainty. We need to be able for producers to whether it’s going into the local NRCS office to discuss practices or planning at home at the dinner table next year’s farming or ranching operation. They need some certainty to know where they’re headed.”
Lucas said he doesn’t have much certainty on the future of the 2012 farm bill, but he does have his preferences.
“The short answer is this: I would prefer, I would hope, we would be able to do this farm bill, finish it in lame duck. If not, then at the very least, we need a one-year extension to provide some certainty in all these areas. Because, remember, when the new Congress comes in in January just as a new president or a second-term president is inaugurated, all the legislative matters have to start over from scratch. I’ve had a lot of fun and put a lot of effort in the last two years and I’d like to complete this as opposed to start all over again.”
The House leadership has been very quiet on what action will be possible on the farm bill following the election. Lucas said he sees some possibilities for getting the bill off high center and into play, but everything is hinging on who will be in the White House and the makeup of the House and Senate come January.
“There are windows of opportunity because you’ve got the tax code issues that have to be addressed. The 2001 and 2003 tax relief all expires at the end of December. That means everybody’s income tax rates, capital gains, death tax rates, all go up. There are the automatic cuts referred to commonly as sequestration to the Department of Defense that take place at the end of the year. All those things are going to happen unless something happens. So, we will be a part of that overall equation, but I believe it will be general election night that will determine if it’s an extended lame duck where real legislation is done or it’s a short-term lame duck where things are put off for six months or a year. We just won’t know until all the polls are in on general election night.”
For an audio version of this story, click on the LISTEN BAR below.
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