Lucas Says Next Few Days 'Critical' for Farm Bill Timeline

September 11, 2012 01:07 AM
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Says he has been 'like a rash' trying to get GOP leaders' attention

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Noting it has been a “challenging time” for the House Ag Committee, its chairman, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), said he continues to talk with GOP leaders every chance he gets about moving the House farm bill along. Lucas spoke to the Southwest Ag Issues Summit in Austin, Texas.

Confirming he will be the chairman of an eventual House-Senate farm bill conference, Lucas said farmers must be given a choice between farm program options, including revenue loss coverage, price loss coverage and a supplemental coverage option.

Acknowledging the outlook for the farm bill is murky, Lucas said the next two weeks will help determine the farm bill end zone. He is waiting to get floor time, but that go-ahead must come from GOP leaders in the House. “If they crack open the door for floor time, I'll drive a freight train through,” Lucas said regarding the goal of getting the House farm bill to the next step. Asked if he has spoken to GOP leaders recently, Lucas said he is “like a rash” on them in trying to move the process.

“There will be a new farm bill, we just don't know when and how,” he said. “A window of opportunity is still there,” Lucas said, noting “the next three days are critical” regarding the farm bill timeline.

Backing up Speaker Boehner. Asked why House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn't realize the importance of getting a farm bill through the House, Lucas said Boehner fully understands the importance, having served on the Ag Committee for 16 years. “He has a huge number of members who were elected to say 'no' to everything,” Lucas said.

He signaled the final bill would likely have changes from the House Ag Committee-passed measure, but that when it eventually moves to a conference, he has a lot of optimism that "hard compromises can and will be made.

Of note, Lucas said “you're almost to a point where you have to have a one-year extension (of the 2008 Farm Bill) even if you pass a new bill before elections.”

Most farm bill observers give very low odds of the farm bill being on the House floor before Nov. 6 elections, with only 8 scheduled days of House activity in September. The six-week lame-duck session of Congress following elections is being viewed as the next best opportunity to complete a farm bill, with a 2013 scenario still not being ruled out, but one farm-state lawmakers and others want to avoid.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


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