When Congress takes up the 2012 farm bill “everything will be on the table,” according to Garrett King, aide to U.S. House of Representatives Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas.

“Everything” includes nutrition programs, King said during a legislative update at the recent Oklahoma Peanut Expo, held annually at the Quartz Mountain Resort near Lone Wolf, Okla.

“Agriculture will do its part to see that the federal budget is in order,” King said, but added that Lucas, R, Okla., and ranking member Colin Peterson, D, N.D., have written a letter to USDA indicating that agriculture has already “done its part” with cuts in crop insurance programs and that those cuts should be taken into consideration in fiscal year 2012.

“We also request that further cuts be made through the committee on agriculture,” he said. “Our goal is to make the 2012 farm bill the best piece of legislation ever issued.”

King responded to a question from Oklahoma Peanut Commission executive secretary Mike Kubicek regarding potential to cut funds from nutrition programs. “Everything has to be on the table,” King said. “Everything in nutrition is on the table.”

Nutrition programs account for 75 percent of farm bill spending. “It’s up to us to defend commodity programs and the farm safety net.”

He said some members are on the committee to protect nutrition funding. “But it isn’t always a party split” he said.

He said current high commodity prices will be part of the farm bill debate. “Prices will be part of the battle, but we don’t write farm bills for good times. We write farm bills for bad times. We have had a low cost farm program since the 1930s that kept food abundant, safe and cheap.”

King said debating a farm bill during an election year may not be business as usual but is intentional. “It is timed to come up during a presidential election year,” he said. “It’s not good politics to veto a farm bill in an election year.”

He said another reason Lucas wants to wait until 2012 to work on a new farm bill is to give USDA a chance “to let the 2008 law be fully implemented. We also want to educate new members of the committee.