What is in this article?:
- Waiting until summer for farm bill debate is better than bad legislation now.
- Direct payments issue offers big target.
- Revenue assurance programs may replace direct payments.
Congressman Frank Lucas, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, would rather forego passing a hurry-up farm bill that jeopardizes the well-being of rural America and take his chances fighting for a better program next summer.
“I will not be a part of legislation that’s bad policy,” Lucas said during a telephone hook-up to the Texas Ag Forum, meeting recently in Austin.
The Texas Ag Forum is an association of key agricultural leaders and representatives from across the Texas food and fiber system. The Forum meets when appropriate to discuss crucial agricultural issues.
Lucas said farm legislation in the 1930s and 1980s represented “bad federal policy that almost destroyed agriculture in the Southwest. I will not give away a huge portion of rural America to get a bad deal. I’ll take my chances next summer.”
He admitted that waiting until summer would mean a fight.
Debate on the 2012 farm bill has been unusual, Lucas said. “In a normal year we would be holding field hearings at this point. This is not a normal year. We have the Super Committee (a committee equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, senators and representatives charged with reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion) standing over our shoulders or behind us with a cattle prod,” Lucas said.
“We (both the House and Senate committees on agriculture) are doing our part to meet our responsibility of deficit reduction. And we have a lot of members of Congress who have no clue where their food comes from.”
Lucas said he’s convinced that the ag committees can come up with $23 billion in farm bill savings. “We’re putting together a framework so we don’t have to depend just on the Super Committee’s numbers. We have a lot of discussions going on.”