'Important Piece Of Legislation': House Debates $1.5 Trillion Farm Bill Impacting Food, National Security

Congressman Lucas (R-OK3), a rancher in Roger Mills County, has worked on every Farm Bill since his election to Congress in 1994. In an interview Wednesday, Lucas said the GOP proposal basically takes the text of the 2018 bill and tweaks it to reflect changes in economic conditions.

Thursday, May 23rd 2024, 7:52 pm



-

Members of the House Agriculture Committee were into their eighth hour Thursday evening of debating and marking up the $1.5 trillion Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024 -- more simply known as the Farm Bill -- with no clear end in sight.

Members of the committee are offering amendments to the 1,000-page bill, which aims to set policy for a range of agriculture and nutrition programs for the next five years.

The 2024 Farm Bill was supposed to be done in 2023, but the House GOP’s leadership issues last year pushed it to the back burner, as lawmakers waited for an agreement on funding levels.

It remains uncertain whether Congress can focus enough over the remainder of the current session, in an election year, to get a Farm Bill to President Biden's desk.

Oklahoma's leading agriculture advocate is optimistic.

"This is just an important piece of legislation," said Rep. Frank Lucas, "and everybody gains from it."

Congressman Lucas (R-OK3), a rancher in Roger Mills County, has worked on every Farm Bill since his election to Congress in 1994. In an interview Wednesday, Lucas said the GOP proposal basically takes the text of the 2018 bill and tweaks it to reflect changes in economic conditions.

"It addresses the price protection issue by raising the reference prices, depending on the commodity, between 10 and 20 percent," Lucas explained. "It addresses weather issues by adjusting the reimbursement rates."

Farm Bills generally have strong bipartisan buy-in, but many Democrats complained Thursday that this bill feels more partisan, citing in particular a proposal that could cut $30 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next ten years.

"Today we are marking up a Farm Bill that undermines and hurts both our farmers and our American families," said Rep. David Scott (D-GA), the committee's Ranking Member, "and here is why: This farm bill makes the largest financial cut to SNAP in 30 years!"

Lucas understands, as much as he is focused on the bill's titles that support those that produce the nation's food and fiber, Democrats tend to home in on the aspects of the bill that provide nutrition assistance the nation's low-income families. But, he says, the reality is that resources are limited.

"It is, with the money that’s available to us," said Lucas, "the strongest safety net I/ think we can produce at this time."

Tribal nations such as the Cherokee Nation believe they can be part of that safety net, and some were on the Hill this week advocating for language in the bill to give them self-governance over food production.

"If tribes can assert more control over food sovereignty and security, that just means more production in the state of Oklahoma and across Indian country," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. in an interview Wednesday. "It means operations like our meat processing plant are more productive; it means we can take locally grown food that includes beef production and other meat production and keep it close to home."

Chief Hoskin acknowledged it would likely take years of persistence, with lawmakers and with the USDA, to get the changes they're wanting put in law.

At the end of the day -- although perhaps not today -- Lucas says, a successful Farm Bill requires compromise, "between making sure (farmers and ranchers) can raise what we need and, yes, our more disadvantage fellow citizens can consume what they need, too--it’s a balancing act."

Congressman Lucas himself says the 'real' balancing act will take place when, and if, the bill goes to conference with the Senate. And, he says, assuming the House Ag Committee is able to complete markup and advance the bill out of committee with some degree of bipartisanship, it will put pressure on Democratic leadership in the Senate to also move their version of the bill forward.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News 9 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

May 23rd, 2024

February 27th, 2024

December 30th, 2023

December 7th, 2023

Top Headlines

July 15th, 2024

July 15th, 2024

July 14th, 2024

July 14th, 2024