Nuggets From Two Lucas Interviews

May 7, 2013 12:44 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Farm bill odds | Amendments | Funding cut breakdown | Livestock disaster aid | Crop insurance | Farmer safety net | SCO | Dairy policy | Food aid

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

Here is what I picked up from House Ag Chair Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) interviews with The Hill (link) and Politico (link): 

(1) He thinks the House will pass a five-year farm bill this summer, adding that getting House GOP leadership commitment to consider the bill this summer made him "very pleased";

(2) 100 amendments are coming during the Ag panel markup, and just as many or more in the modified open rule when it comes to the House floor – what's coming, he said is a "very lively battle and debate";

(3) Believes the Senate bill will save "around $25 billion" while the House will save around $38 billion over ten years, provided he gets "no more surprises" from the Congressional Budget Office;

(4) Breakdown of House farm bill cuts: $4 billion for sequester cuts, $14 billion in cuts to basic farm programs, and $20 billion in food stamp funding cuts;

(5) He supports livestock disaster aid and may have to tap farm program and crop insurance funding to help pay for it;

(6) Is very cool toward the Obama admin.'s food aid reform plan;

(7) Says the Senate bill would put more emphasis on a revenue-based shallow loss insurance program, while the House would keep traditional price-based supports as a choice;

(8) Confirmed my previous report that premium subsidies for the new Supplemental Coverage Option or SCO crop insurance plan could be pared back to 65 percent, from 70 percent last year;

(9) Said the dairy policy pushed by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) would be part of the coming farm bill markup.

Comments: The reporters should have but did not ask Lucas whether or not he believed Peterson's dairy provision will make it in the final bill. They also should have asked him what the final budget-saving figure will be because of the wide difference between the Senate and House versions. The most important nugget: the 100 amendments prediction in the coming House markup (tentative May 15), and perhaps even more in a "modified open rule" House floor debate. That is where the real farm bill will be decided -- not in the House or Senate Ag Committee. Another topic nether addressed is whether or not Lucas will go along with a Stabenow-farm group compromise linking conservation compliance with crop insurance in an effort to avoid draconian amendments to crop insurance.

As for the Senate Ag Committee, if Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) wants to hold a farm bill markup session on Thursday, as some Senate aides suggested last week, the text of the bill has to be released ahead of that date. Some observers, including some senators, think the markup session will be bumped to next week.


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






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