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Rep. Lucas challenges ag secretary on administration’s 2012 Farm Bill priorites

April 22, 2010

The first hearing on the 2012 Farm Bill featured a spirited exchange between the House Agriculture Committee’s ranking Republican Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and the day’s only witness U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Oklahoman reported:

Rep. Frank Lucas on Wednesday questioned whether the Obama administration is planning to turn rural areas into “bedroom communities” by cutting back on traditional farm subsidies and focusing more resources on broadband expansion and alternative energy production.
In an exchange with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at a committee hearing, Lucas said the administration’s plans for the next farm bill appear to leave out the safety net of price supports and payments many farmers need.  Vilsack said the administration wanted to provide more economic opportunities in areas where people were falling further behind their urban and suburban counterparts.

Sec. Vilsack’s written testimony said the 2008 farm bill has a more extensive impact on Americans than any other statue.  Vilsack said at a time when many Americans question the effecacy of current levels of federal resources and support through farm legislation, “I believe there is an important story that must be told regarding the importance of rural America, which serves as a basic building block for the rest of the economy.”

The ag committee’s 2012 Farm Bill show goes on the road next weekend, with the first of eight field hearings scheduled for next Friday, April 30 in Des Moines, Iowa. 

For his part, Chairman Collin Peterson has stated that regarding the next farm bill  “everything is on the table.”

“This hearing is the first step in the process of writing the next Farm Bill. A bill this large and that covers so many important issues takes a lot of time and effort to get it right, and I am committed to a process that is open, transparent, and bipartisan,” said Chairman Peterson. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from all regions of the country to be sure that we put together a bill that supports the food, fiber, conservation, energy and rural development needs of this country.”

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