by Ken Root
Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) herded the 2014 Farm Bill through Congress. That may be his greatest accomplishment in his years as a conservative republican congressman.
Long on colorful speech and deep in intellect, he spoke about what it will take to create and pass another bill by 2018.
Thanks to Ron Hays from the Radio Oklahoma Network for this audio.
The former Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, waited until almost the end of the first hearing by the Committee looking at issues that will help frame the debate for a 2018 Farm Bill- which will replace the Farm Bill he was an integral part in helping craft.
Lucas then took his five minutes to question the witnesses and instead bragged a bit about the bill that became the 2014 Farm Law- ranted about the difficulty of getting the bill done and offered sage advice to his colleagues that it will be a daunting task that faces them if they intend to successfully write new farm law in the next couple of years.
Lucas told the Committee Members and the Panel of Economists, “I would hope everyone on the panel would acknowledge that the biggest miracle of all is the fact that we are operating under the 2014 farm law. There were times in that two and a half years that not everybody in this town thought we would have a farm bill- and that we would revert to 38 and 49 (permanent law) and that the forces who didn’t understand rural America would repeal those acts and we would have NOTHING.”
Congressman Lucas contends the fact that there is a 2014 Farm Law means he and other key players were able to build a bipartisan coalition of the middle that got a farm bill done.
Congressman Lucas offered a rant about the basic economic principle of “inelasticity of demand for food and fiber.” He explained in his statement that simply put- the concept is that “either you have enough to eat or you don’t. And- if you don’t have enough- you will pay whatever it takes to get it and if you have more than you need- you won’t pay anything for the excess.” Lucas contends that when supply gets tight enough- consumers will let lawmakers know they better get something done.
Former Chairman Lucas told the Committee that this won’t be a quick and easy process to get improved farm policy in place- saying, “You’re going to find out over the course of the next 18 months to two years how tough this is. The pressures that we will encounter from our friends on the right who as I like to say back home in my town hall meetings don’t want to spend any money on anybody for any reason- and some of our friends on the left who don’t want to spend any money on Rural America or the concept of modern wondrous production agriculture in this country.”
Lucas says that’s where you have to find colleagues in the middle who will help provide the safety net for farmers that allow them to produce food for consumers who don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of “Inelastic Demand.”
The economic term, translated to food, is that a consumer will pay whatever they have to in order to get enough food but they will pay almost nothing for any amount that exceeds their needs.