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Lucas: House Ag committee action on farm bill will wait

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., signaled today that his committee may not take up the next farm bill for several months.

Speaking to reporters after a markup session, Lucas said he will wait for the White House Office of Management and Budget to define what programs will be exempt from the across-the-board budget cuts that are supposed to go into force in 2013 since the super committee in charge of deficit reduction did not reach an agreement.

Lucas noted there is an assumption that the supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits known as SNAP or food stamps would be exempt, but there is a question about whether Conservation Reserve Program payments would also be exempt. The CRP contracts are multi-year, and in past budget control effort the government has usually honored multi-year contracts. Under the debt ceiling bill that calls for the across-the-board cuts, OMB is expected to detail the cuts in January.

Lucas also said he wants to wait until he sees some action on the farm bill in the Senate. Lucas said that the Senate “in recent history” has had a hard time passing legislation, but there has also been speculation that Lucas would have a hard time getting a farm bill acceptable to the agriculture community through his committee and passed on the House floor.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told reporters this week that she expects to resume farm bill hearings in late January or early February and hold a markup on the bill in the spring.