Congressman Lucas Hopeful Over Next Farm Bill's Impact On Oklahoma

Tuesday, December 6th 2022, 4:53 pm


The middle of a lame duck session, with a funding deadline looming, might seem an odd time for a member of Congress to be talking excitedly about getting to work on the next Farm Bill, but perhaps not, if that member is an Oklahoma farmer and rancher Frank Lucas.

In the next Congress, which will be Rep. Lucas’s 15th term, the Roger Mills County Republican is likely to chair the important Science, Space, and Technology Committee and also be the senior Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, but he sees another possible committee assignment as just, if not more, important.

"My legacy committee is agriculture," said Rep. Lucas (R-OK3) in an interview last week, "and I’ve asked to, and I expect to, be returning to that because next year will be the every-five-year Farm Bill process, the 2023 Farm Bill."

The Farm Bill provides a safety net, Lucas says, to make sure American farmers and ranchers can raise the food and fiber we need, in the healthiest, most affordable, and most abundant fashion.

"We don’t have to reinvent the wheel," said Lucas. "We take the ‘14 bill that became the ‘18 bill, which will now hopefully become the ‘23 bill, and we’ll make adjustments -- input costs have changed dramatically."

And there have been other changes since the current Farm Bill was written. Notably, Lucas says, Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine exposed vulnerabilities in U.S. and global supply chains and the need, for example, for reforms to the meatpacking industry.

"State-inspected plants, as we have in Oklahoma, are just as good as federally-inspected," Lucas stated, "but you typically can’t sell your product across the state line because it doesn’t have a federal stamp. How do we expand the meat inspection program on the federal level so that more packing plants -- competition to the big boys, so to speak -- are able to sell their products around the country? Issues like that."

Issues, Lucas says, that history has shown matter to a broad, bipartisan majority of Congress. Passing bills like this, he says, ends up being an exercise in 'working the middle.'

"Because the hard left and the hard right never vote for them," Lucas explained. "If you can’t get a majority in the middle, there’s not going to be a Farm Bill. So, everything I care about requires the process working, and this place functioning, and I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen."

Lucas says, with portions of the 2018 Farm Bill set to begin expiring next fall, his hope is to get the new bill across the finish line by October 1, 2023


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