Farm Bill Could Follow Appropriations Process

The federal appropriations process could pave the way for other pieces of legislation of important, like the farm bill. Representative Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, and former House Ag Chairman, explains.

“There are so many things like the Farm Bill, reauthorizing the Weather Act, NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), there are so many pieces of legislation that have to have spending allocation numbers to be written. Chairman GT Thompson of the Ag Committee is ready to go. He is ready to go with a markup, but we have to know where we are financially.” 

There are changes that Lucas says producers would like to see in the Farm Bill.

“Many of my producers in a variety of crops would like to make adjustments for reference prices. Think about the inflation since 2018, think about the trade war effect on our producers, think about the COVID effect on our producers. The safety net, no matter how well structured it was in the 2018 Farm Bill does not reflect the cost of inputs right now or what it’s done to most of the grain commodity prices. We need some extra money.” 

The question becomes, is there enough time to complete the farm bill?

“Bear in mind, we’re not rewriting the farm bill as we did in 2012 and 13, and 14, it’s a tweaking. We can do that. We just need some money so we can address reference prices and some of those issues. And if we get our work done in the House, or when we get our work done in the House, I think that will motivate the United States Senate. They just need to pass something and then we’ll take a House-passed bill and whatever they pass, we’ll go to a conference committee, we’ll do it the way historically legislation has always been put together, especially farm bills, and we’ll work out our differences.” 

Despite the challenges, Lucas says he feels like there can be a 2024 Farm Bill.

“Absolutely. You’ve got a situation where you have an incumbent president running for reelection. I’ve never known an incumbent president who didn’t have the biggest ceremony imaginable when they were signing a farm bill. We get it to the White House, it’ll be signed. Chairwoman Stabenow, she’s not running for reelection, she’s vacating her seat. So, this is her legacy bill. In the House, we just know that the farm bill has to be brought up to date to reflect what producers are dealing with, and that gives us a huge incentive. So, everybody has a very enlightened self-interest.”