Thanks to Rural Oklahoma Network for this interview
Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas spoke with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about several issues relevant to agricultural interests both statewide and nationally.
He also mentioned the approval of his bill co-sponsored by Congressman Bridenstine, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act – H.R. 353, which aims to better protect lives and property across the country.
In matters of ag policy, though, Congressman Lucas set the scene for what is to come as the new Trump administration transitions into the White House.
“First of all, there are several names, like former Governor Purdue, that just keep appearing in the discussions up here,” Lucas said, referring to potential candidates for Trump’s nominee to lead the United States Department of Agriculture. “Then there are a variety of people whose names appear for a few days and then disappear.”
At this point, however, the Congressman like many of his peers, is just ready for the position to be filled. As long as the candidate understands production agriculture and all of its complexities, and is ready to hit the ground running, Lucas contends beyond those stipulations, he does not care who he or she is, where they come from or what their background is. He simply wants the process to move forward.
Nonetheless, he says he is hopeful and enthusiastic that the new administration will provide a viable candidate very soon.
Another topic dominating discussion in the Capital he says are the rumors surrounding the next Farm Bill.
“Chairman Conaway’s comment to me is that he intends to work towards a process that would give us a new Farm Bill by the end of September 2018 – the regular time,” Lucas remarked, noting that ever since he can remember, the existing Farm Bill had been extended at least once or twice before a new one was ever put into place.
“Mechanically – you’re probably talking about early spring of ’18″ as far as the earliest that mark up of new farm policy legislation happening, which would likely be the starting point of a lengthy process of balancing all the aspects of what is a massive piece of legislation.”
Congressman Lucas says he hopes Chairman Conaway does not face the problems he had to deal with as Chairman during this next farm bill process, but he says there will be a lot of energy directed to the nutrition title of the bill in 2018- with a major push likely for entitlement reform of SNAP and other aspects of the Nutrition programs in this country.
Lucas warns farm policy supporters that reform efforts could also be “Code” for efforts to reduce support for things like Crop Insurance, Rural Development, Conservation and Ag Research as a 2018 Farm Bill is considered.