House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is convinced that the nation’s farmers and ranchers will get a new farm bill. He stops short of predicting just when that will happen, however.

“I don’t know when; I don’t know what shape; I don’t know what every nuance of policy will be; I don’t know how or when—yet,” says Lucas, R-Okla. “But there will be a farm bill we can all participate in. Be assured of that. It will be a comprehensive farm bill.”

Lucas, speaking at the inaugural Southwest Ag Issues Summit in Austin, expressed some degree of frustration at times concerning the lack of progress in getting the bill he ushered out of committee onto the House floor.

The consequences of not getting a farm bill passed would be hard “on Rural America first, then on banks, then small towns and then across the country. A strong Rural America is necessary for the good of the nation.”

He said if he gets as much as “a quarter of an inch opening in a window of opportunity to get the farm bill on the floor of the House, “I’ll drive a freight train through it.”

Responding to an audience question about his interaction with House leadership on bringing the bill to a vote, he said, “When I’m in Washington, I’m like a rash, I’m all over them.”

He believes Congress can pass a farm bill and have it on the president’s desk before the election, but concedes that time is growing short. “The window of opportunity is still there,” he said. “It will depend on the members’ attitudes when they get back from recess.”