FRANK LUCAS: Farm Bill Provides Safety Net for Producers and Consumers
Congress delivered America’s farmers, ranchers and consumers what they deserve by passing the Agricultural Act of 2014 – commonly referred to as the farm bill. This five-year comprehensive bill ensures producers have the tools they need to provide an affordable and stable food and fiber supply. Just like production agriculture in Oklahoma and rural America, farm policy has come a long way since the first farm bill, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. At the time, our country was in the middle of the greatest depression in national history, and terrible dust bowl conditions were rampant. America’s farmers and ranchers were in desperate need of assistance, so President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first farm bill into law to help address these issues. While the current farm bill may not look at all like the original bill drafted in 1933, the ultimate goal remains the same – to provide a strong safety net so we can continue to be the preeminent source of food and fiber for the world. To achieve this, we repealed the Direct Payment system, strengthened crop insurance, and reauthorized livestock disaster assistance to offer producers protection when they suffer significant losses. Many times farmers and ranchers are presented with circumstances beyond their control, such as devastating weather and unstable markets. This farm bill gives farmers and ranchers across the country tools they can count on to help mitigate risks inherent in the agricultural industry. As our federal government continues to face high deficits, it is crucial that we find ways to cut spending in a responsible way. While this bill contains comprehensive reforms and saves taxpayers $23 billion, it was particularly challenging to pass in the current political environment. In the past, the farm bill has been an across-the-aisle consensus builder – throughout the process, this proved to be an immense challenge. Ultimately, we were able to accomplish our goals of reform and produce a bill that provides certainty for every region of the country. As the Congressman representing Oklahoma’s Third District and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, passing this farm bill has been one of my top priorities. Just as the needs of consumers and producers have changed since 1933, so have the policies of each farm bill. I am very pleased the Agricultural Act of 2014 gives producers the tools and opportunities needed to be successful now and in the future.