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Peterson hasn’t heard from Lucas, still hoping for farm bill

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Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said today that Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has not called him since September 22, but that he still hopes the House leadership will move the farm bill during the lame duck session.

In a radio interview with Agri-Talk, an Oklahoma station, Peterson said he believes the Republican leaders are still trying to figure out how to handle the bill. Peterson noted that there are three or four ways it could be handled: in regular order, folded into a fiscal cliff bill, or as the Senate-passed bill but amended.

Agri-Talk listed Lucas as a scheduled guest for the program with Peterson, but Lucas was not heard on the program.

Peterson also said he is “110 percent against a one-year extension and I will do everything to stop it, including making the Ag committee partisan for the first time if I have to.”

He added, “I don’t know if I can stop it, but I think I can because I have considerable republican support.”

Peterson said he is prepared for permanent law to go into effect and for milk priced at $38 per hundredweight, and that one of the main reasons he is opposed to an extension is that he wants the dairy program known as the Dairy Security Act, passed in a new bill. Peterson said he talked with the National Milk Producers Federation and its leaders are in agreement with him that an extension should be stopped.

Noting that there are a significant number of dairy farmers in the West who are in trouble, Peterson said, “If you let these guys [the Republicans] off the hook for a year, we’ll be around here next December talking about the same thing.”

If permanent law really goes into effect in January, the baseline available to agriculture will be $100 million to $200 million higher, he said.

One of the problems in achieving a consensus to move forward, Peterson said, was a public opinion poll taken for Agri-Pulse of farmers with 500 acres or more that showed that 46 percent of them believe that Democrats are to blame for not passing a new farm bill. The poll showed 28 percent consider both parties equally responsible.

“That just shows you how out of touch with reality people are,” Peterson said. “This was completely 100 percent Republicans who didn’t get it done.”

Peterson also said he does not have much faith that President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will reach agreement on major fiscal cliff legislation. But he said he does believe Boehner wants to get the farm bill done before Congress leaves for this year.

Audio of Rep. Collin Peterson Agri-Talk interview