The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas won his seat again Tuesday so Lucas is talking farm bill. Will it will be brought up during the lame duck session when Congress returns to work next week? Lucas says re-elected President Barack Obama has an incentive to address farm bill policy, military sequestration and tax issues.
“As far as I can determine, the $35 billion that we tried to save in the house ag committee version of the farm bill is one of the few bills that have real savings that are really countable. And I think we might be needed in some of these other calculations, so for whatever the reason, if there’s a window of opportunity I want to get the farm bill done.”
The Democrats maintained control of the Senate, so Lucas says he will continue to build on his relationship with Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow to get the farm bill done. He says he has tried to get others in Congress to see how important it is to finish a farm bill now.
“If we can’t get this done in December, if there is a one year extension, be prepared to hit the ground running in the spring. We’re not going to start all over in our hearing process. We’re going back to markup immediately if we can’t complete this in the present session of congress. Remember when the new congress comes in in January all legislative business expires. You have to start fresh.”
That includes the nutrition, commodity and conservation titles, basically everything. The committee lawyers have told him that one specific that will kick in with the pre-2008 farm law is the 1949 dairy law which would begin on January 1st. Lucas says the thought of going back to that law, to 38 or 51-dollar milk may sound good to dairy producers at first, but USDA doesn’t know how to take the world in 1949 and move it to January 2013.
Lucas says the question of whether the farm bill will get time on the floor in the lame duck comes down to how many weeks Congress will actually be in session. As long as he has time to do his work on the floor, about three or four days, Lucas says the farm bill will get done. If taxes and military spending get pushed with an extension of six-months to a year, Lucas says floor time for the farm bill won’t happen because Congress won’t be there.