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Lucas plans farm bill completion by September 2012

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is planning regular order on the farm bill, with the series of audit hearings on federal agencies this summer, field hearings this fall and then writing of the bill next year. Completion is targeted by September 2012, but the schedule could be moved up if Congress completes a budget deal, a key congressional aide said today.

The comment was made when a panel of three congressional aides spoke to the National Association of Conservation Districts, on the grounds that they would not be quoted by name.

The aides noted that the budget is dominating the debate, and that serious discussion of the farm bill is being delayed by the lack of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and possibly cut government spending in the process. Everything including food stamps and other nutrition programs will be on the table during the discussions, they said.

They also pointed out most members of the House do not live in farming areas and that the votes of members interested in farm and nutrition programs have been vital to passage of the farm bill.