Lucas re-elected to chair House Ag Committee; no movement on 2012 Farm Bill yet

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) was re-elected to serve a second term as chair of the House Ag Committee next year. However, there's still work to be done in 2012.

“It is an honor to serve in this leadership position and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working on behalf of America’s farmers, ranchers and rural constituents,” Lucas said. “And, we advanced a strong, reform-minded, fiscally responsible farm bill that can save billions of dollars and provide certainty to our agricultural producers. This process is not complete though I am confident that it’s just a matter of time.”

When the 2012 Farm Bill is completed remains in question.

Speaking on DairyBusiness Radio on No. 29, National Milk Producers Federation’s Chris Galen said the U.S. faces both a “fiscal cliff” and a “dairy cliff,” providing pressure for Congress to act.

“In recent weeks, while there’s been a lot of rhetoric about the need to compromise to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff, there's no concrete deal,” Galen said. “The same is true of the Farm Bill: there's a lot of good intentions expressed about wanting to finish the work that's been done in the Senate and House, but there hasn't been any talk about scheduling votes on the Farm Bill.”

The looming dairy cliff includes expiration of the current Dairy Product Price Support Program, he noted. “The program doesn't go away, but reverts back to the 1949 permanent law, which will result in much higher price support levels and could be disruptive to markets if the government starts buying dairy products at about double the current market level.

“The good news is that the Farm Bill proposal does result in budget savings, and Congress is looking for ways to save money,” he continued. “If there can be some form of overall fiscal cliff budget deal in the coming weeks, the Farm Bill could be wrapped up in that, because it does provide budget savings. But, it's been three weeks since the elections, and as of (Wednesday), there's no definite path on how this will get resolved.”

After this week, Congress is scheduled to be session only on Dec. 3-6 and Dec. 11-14.