Former House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas Calls Farm Bill Safety Net Essential in Years Following 2014 Farm Law- Just as Important in 2018Wed, 05 Sep 2018 12:31:21 CDT
Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-3), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, delivered an opening statement as a conferee on the congressional conference committee for the 2018 Farm Bill. You can listen to Congressman Lucas' comments by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below- the written statement he delivered follows:
Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be here. I will acknowledge when we were last together almost five years ago I had the privilege of speaking first, now I speak 14th. Thatís the proper way of the world that we live in.
Why do I care about the farm bills? Why do they matter? Well, I represent that part of Oklahoma that was a part of the great Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. In the 1930 census, we had 14,000 people in my home county. We will be lucky in the 2020 census if we made it back to 4,000. A dramatic depopulation in the 30s, 40s, and the drought of the 1950s. Why was that the challenge? In the House, we donít have the authority to address Mother Nature and the weather to make it rain. That might be the other body.
Setting the weather aside, bad policies in the teens and 20s led to the 30s. Not so great policies 60s and 70s led to economic burn down in 1980s. Our responsibility is not to follow in the footsteps of our predecessors. The chairman noted that this is his 8th farm bill. I believe this is my 5th farm bill starting as an apprentice to UN Chairman De La Garza not too many days ago. I try to pay attention and learn from that. In quick sum, what are the issues that I believe we have to address in this farm bill? Itís the safety nets that produce food and fiber that make sure that our consumers and our neighbors here at home and around the world have enough to eat and enough to wear. ARC and PLC were designed to be different programs. If you remember when we did 2012, 2013 that became the 2014 farm bill designed to be different programs wheat was 8 bucks a bushel, corn was 7 dollars. The prudence in this town there would never be another bad day in rural America. You donít need a farm bill. We created a safety net, knowing that there would another bad day. Cash commodity prices are essentially half of what they were when we last met. That adds to the importance of passing another farm bill. Again, ARC and PLC were designed for different purposes. Thatís why we had a choice. Thatís why producers could decide whether they thought prices would remain high forever. ARC was your route. Or if you thought that perhaps someday we would have a price collapse as we have now, PLC was your route. There was a difference.
CRP dramatic reduction in the acres in the last farm bill. Why was that? Under the Budget Act of 1974, if we didnít move those numbers down to achieve that savings market decisions were going to drive, we wouldnít have had the resources for the safety net and the crop insurance programs but now CRP needs to come back up. We need to send a signal to the commodity traders that we are not going to be at these production levels forever.
Nutrition, no more issue controversial in my life than the nutrition section. I wonít deny to you I am still waiting for the pilot projects that we set up in the last farm bill to yield their results. We have some bases to work from. Whatever we ultimately decide on nutrition, I will simply ask all my colleagues here, letís not make it more difficult for consumers who need the help to be able to buy their products. Letís make sure they have choices where they can use those nutrition benefits. Letís give them as much flexibility in what they purchase. I donít want to have to stand behind some mother or some father who has to explain to their teenager or pre-teenager why they canít buy the same products everyone else is buying. I donít think thatís fair.
Again, my friends, itís wonderful to be with all of you. We have a responsibility to get our work done. I have faith that we will get our work done. But we will have some of the most glorious, philosophical battles imaginable before we get to that point. But letís get to that point in a hurry. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Source- The Office of Congresman Fraank Lucas
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