Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Farm cuts will be more than $23 billion suggested last year, House agriculture panel chairman says

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, right, said this week he thinks Congress will cut more than the $23 billion in Farm Bill spending recommended by agriculture committee leaders last fall during the "super committee" hearings, Agri-Pulse reports.

“My friends on the ‘left’ don’t want to spend any money on rural America and my friends on the ‘right’ just don’t want to spend any money on anybody for ANY reason!”  the Oklahoma Republican said. That statement underscores how difficult it will be to secure 218 votes for a Farm Bill in the House, Agri-Pulse reports. Lucas said some of his "friends on the right" are freshmen who sit on the agriculture panel and would like to make “some dramatic” cuts to nutrition programs, which includes SNAP, formerly the food stamps program.

He told Agri-Pulse that it will be a "challenge" to get Republicans and Democrats on the committee to "mark up a Farm Bill that can clear the floor." He said he'll work on a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill this summer if it seems unlikely a compromise will be reached. "I want a Farm Bill this year," he said. "I just don’t know whether the environment I’m working in up here – budget, the political mix, the presidential campaigns – I don’t know whether the circumstances are going to let me have one."

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