Lucas Touts Permanent Farm Bill
In a little noticed radio interview with Oklahoma Farm Report last week, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) offered this bombshell:
“I’m trying to craft good policy in a way that we can live with it, not just for the next five years, but the next 10 or 15 years. I want to use that as permanent law to protect us from a day when we can’t pass any farm legislation. At that point, it becomes a defensive battle, protecting what we have, not trying to scare people by using the bad old policy from Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman’s time to force something to happen. Because the group I’m now part of will just simply repeal a ’38 and ’49 law before it — when it takes effect and we’ll have nothing. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Prior to the House vote, Heritage Action warned the new permanent law would “harm consumers and taxpayers alike” because “lawmakers would not have a built in check, in the form of a reauthorization, in the years ahead.”
Nonetheless, many of those who supported the farm-only farm bill did so under the impression they could live to fight another day and secure real changes to America’s agriculture policy in the years ahead.
On the floor, Rep. Lucas gave his Republican colleagues every reason to believe they’d be able to come back and make further changes to the law, calling the bill “a step towards getting a five-year farm bill on the books this year.” Later in the debate, he doubled down, saying, “And, yes, we can pass the new farm bill in five years if we want or sooner, but everything will be up to debate, discussion, and voting.”
Now we know – and all his colleagues know – he has no plan to reopen debate. Rather, Lucas and his allies have set up “a defensive battle, protecting what we have.”
A permanent farm bill isn’t good for anyone, except those looking to protect what they have.