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House Agriculture Committee Chairman vows to protect agriculture safety net and establish base concepts that will be in place for years.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas talks farm bill at the Southwest Ag Issues summit in Oklahoma City.
Extension not on table
Another farm bill extension is not on the table and would be considered only as a last resort. “I prefer to complete it and be done with it,” Lucas said. “But I wanted to complete a farm bill last year.”
He said rumors of a one-year or a two-year farm bill extension have been floating around and that some may try to stretch the issue out until another election puts another new batch of legislators in office who would want to take even more money out of rural America. “I will not let that happen,” he said.
The House will be in charge of the conference, and Lucas will chair the committee, which will be an advantage. “That means we choose the base text,” he said.
He says he’ll stick to his guns as the process unfolds.
“I will pledge, as a product of a tough place to farm and ranch and as a product of an education from Oklahoma State University, that I will do the right thing.”
He said the farm bill must:
- Represent all commodities and regions;
- Give farmers and ranchers the opportunity to make decisions on what is best for their specific farms, their families and their nation;
- Do no harm to crop insurance; and
- establish farm bill base concepts for years to come.
Lucas said immigration reform likely will not happen anytime soon. “Don’t hold your breath for the rest of the year. We have Syria, the farm bill and other issues pending.”
The sticking point with immigration reform, he said, will be two phrases that may sound similar: “pathway to citizenship” in the Senate version and “pathway to legal status,” preferred by the House. “There is a huge difference but the pathway to legal status is doable,” he said.
He said the issue with Syria is complex. “My observation is this: How do we pick out the good guys, and what if there are no good guys?”
He left the Summit shortly after his talk to attend a briefing on Syria but said he does not think the House will okay a strike.