House Ag Committee Chair Brings Farm Bill Debate To Alabama
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., recently spoke with farmers in Cullman and Pike counties about the future of the farm bill. At Stone Bridge Farms in Cullman, Lucas was the special guest of U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and both addressed a crowded room of farmers and legislators.Aderholt said hosting the lunch session with Lucas was a good way for farmers to voice their concerns in an informal setting.“Farmers need to know what to expect and how to plan, and having a farm bill is so important,” Aderholt said. “The greatest mistake we as Americans can make is looking to the rest of the world for our agricultural products. Chairman Lucas is committed to making sure farmers have a voice in Washington.”Lucas, the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 3rd District, is a fifth-generation farmer and said he understands the worries and problems farmers face everyday. Addressing concerns of the tabled farm bill, Lucas said the House has to make sure the 2012 farm bill represents all commodities, not just farmers who raise energy crops. “When we get it wrong, the effect is dramatic. Getting farm bill policy right is so important to the future of American agriculture,” he said. “We can’t make it rain, but we can provide crop insurance and other safety nets for rural America.”Lucas said fixing the problems with the food stamps program is a requirement before consensus will be achieved. The food stamp program makes up 80 percent of the farm bill budget.“We want to help those who need help, but let’s first make sure the people who are receiving this help actually qualify for it,” Lucas said. “The language in the bill needs to reflect that before we pass a bill that will negatively impact who it’s supposed to protect.” Prior to his Cullman trip, Lucas joined U.S. Rep Martha Roby, R-Ala., for a meeting with south Alabama farmers at the Talbot farm in the Tarentum Community between Troy and Brundidge. Roby, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, said Lucas has been a tremendous advocate for agriculture. She said he is doing all he can to address the concerns of American farmers.“Everything you have brought to me, I have delivered those messages to our chairman, and he has honored that to the best of his ability,” Roby told farmers. “As a result, we have a farm bill that we have voted out of committee.”The 2008 Farm Bill expired Sept. 30. The House Agriculture Committee passed a 2012 farm bill, but it has yet to be voted on in the House. The Senate passed its version in June.