House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told Informa Economics recently that the issue of maintaining direct payments to farmers will have to be addressed in the 2012 farm bill. Lucas added that this is necessary because of limited available resources to write the legislation. Informa published an edited version of the interview in Policy Report.

There's a high probability that he'll be able to pass a farm bill next year, Lucas said. "I expect that global commodity prices will be more in line with the historic norm next year.  And I expect revenue numbers [the economy] to be better in 2012, thus providing the committee with a better [and different] budget," he said.  Extending the 2008 farm bill for another five years will not be possible because "the budget situation is not going to permit that," he said.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has a wholly different organization and he will be looking at the cost of all underlying federal programs, considering their net and bottom line costs, Lucas said.

On trade policy, Lucas said he would vote for the three pending free trade agreements and is disappointed the Obama administration has not sent them to Congress for a vote already.

The USA Rice Federation is working with Congress to communicate the significance of direct payments in providing a safety net for rice farmers, and express support for the U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreements.