Lucas, Carbajal optimistic about passing a farm bill
By Jerry Hagstrom, The Hagstrom Report
|BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a former House Agriculture Committee chairman who is returning to the committee to work on a new farm bill, and Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., who worked hard to get a waiver to serve on the committee, both said here Monday they believe Congress will pass a new farm bill, though not necessarily by Sept. 30, when the current bill expires.|
Speaking to the Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention, a gathering of crop insurance executives, reinsurers and agents, Lucas noted that President Biden will be running for re-election in 2024 and that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is retiring.
|“Presidents like to sign the farm bill when they are running for re-election,” Lucas said. And as for Stabenow, “this is her legacy bill, she has an incentive to get it done,” he added.|
“I am not holding my breath about getting it done by Oct. 1, but we will get it done,” Lucas said.
“At the end of the day, we are going to pass a farm bill,” Carbajal said, even though “there is always talk of an extension.”
But Lucas said that if conservative Republicans insist on cutting the farm bill, he would prefer an extension at current spending levels.The challenge for the crop insurance industry, Lucas said, is “if this becomes a really tight-fisted Congress and there is pressure for defense spending due to all the problems around the world, and Stabenow refuses to allow any cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, “there are only so many pools of money,” and in agriculture those would be conservation and crop insurance.
“Strap on your boots, it is going to be a ride,” Lucas said.
Both Lucas and Carbajal told the crop insurers they need to educate all members and their staffs, but Carbajal said crop insurers coming to Washington should insist on seeing the members. The best way to get an appointment with a member, he said, is to bring a constituent along.
Lucas also noted that each member has only 18 aides to serve the 800,000 people in the average congressional district, “so you have to educate them.”
Lucas said he believes his chairmanship of the House Science Committee means he will be able to work with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., on Thompson’s interest in incorporating technology and innovation into every title of the farm bill.
|Carbajal noted the several ad hoc disaster bills passed in recent years and said “we need to figure out disaster aid in the overall framework” of the bill.|
Lucas warned the crop insurers not to be taken in by people who propose splitting the farm program and the nutrition program into separate bills.
Splitting the bill “is a ploy to destroy both the food production and nutrition” sections of the bill, Lucas advised.
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who now has crop insurance clients, asked the two House members what they think about “attaching” requirements to address climate change to crop insurance participation.
Lucas said he believes “resources should follow production,” and that he prefers “the carrot approach to cleaning up the environment” as opposed to “sticks” with the government punishing farmers who don’t follow government directives.
Lucas told The Hagstrom Report, however, that he knows from his own farm in Oklahoma that farming is more difficult today than 20 years ago.
Carbajal said it is important to have conservation programs to incentivize farmers.
“There is room to acknowledge the changing weather and how we might create more resilient farming operations,” Carbajal said.