What is in this article?:
- Farm bill debate features 'everything on table'
- Pressing issues
- When Congress takes up the 2012 farm bill “everything will be on the table,” according to Garrett King, aide to U.S. House of Representatives Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas.
- Nutrition programs account for 75 percent of farm bill spending.
- Current high commodity prices will be part of the farm bill debate.
- King said debating a farm bill during an election year may not be business as usual but is intentional. “It is timed to come up during a presidential election year,” he said. “It’s not good politics to veto a farm bill in an election year.”
“We’re also addressing pressing issues.”
Environmental Protection Agency rulings are among those issues.
“We will have the EPA administrator in front of the committee. We ask that EPA consider three things before they make new rulings. One is to ask if EPA is following the law, complying with the U.S. Constitution and the intent of Congress.
“We ask if they have done a cost/benefit analysis before implementing a new ruling. And we ask that they consider what financial impact a regulation will have on rural America and agriculture.”
King said Lucas and other members of the House Ag Committee need to hear from farmers. “We want to hear your ideas,” he said. “It’s also our job to tell the story of American agriculture. We have to educate friends and neighbors.”
Mike Schulz, majority floor leader in the Oklahoma State Senate, talked about legislative issues that may affect agriculture. He said one bill, HB1208, allows the governor to reorganize “every board in the state. I don’t think this is a good idea.”
He said the current system is set up for “continuity between administrations.”
Schulz said the budget will be a touchy issue as the state faces a 10 percent shortfall. “That’s on top of 5 percent to 10 percent budget cuts in past years. It will be a difficult budget year.”
He said an immigration bill should focus on public safety. “We passed a bill out of the Senate with too much employee language.”
He said a worker’s compensation bill “will dramatically change worker’s comp in Oklahoma. It attacks both the legal and medical sides.”
Schulz said redistricting also will be an issue in this legislative session. “It will be easier to do this time. We will maintain five House seats. We are close to drawing Senate lines.”
He said the Oklahoma sales tax exemption for farmers “is safe for this session.”