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November 9, 2007

Lucas: Farm Bill needs a miracle

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jon Leeds will tell you weather is a farmer's greatest adversary.

“That ranges from drought to fires to floods to tornados,” said Leeds, a corn, soybeans and wheat farmer in Webbers Falls.

This year, weather won the battle over Leeds’ wheat crop.

“When times are good, do your best and not slack off,” he said. “It’s been very tough between flood and drought.”

He lost his entire wheat crop this year and said he has insurance to cover the cost of the seeds and fertilizer, but not the cost of what he would have made by selling the crop.

Leeds does not depend heavily on federal commodity programs to provide a boost for farmers but does depend on another federal program that helps when crop prices drop.

The new Farm Bill — which is designed to help farmers, enrich conservation and feed low-income population through food stamp and nutrition programs — is stalled in the U.S. Senate and may not meet its 2007 reauthorization deadline if senators don’t act quickly, one legislator warns.



May take a miracle

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a farmer and rancher in the state’s 3rd District. He played a role in drafting the House version of the Farm Bill, which is reauthorized every five years. He said this year’s House version is similar to the 2002 Farm Bill, except that House Democrats inserted a tax increase. He agrees with the content of the bill but not the tax increase, so he voted against the bill.

The bill passed and the Senate Agriculture Committee wrote a Senate version of the Farm Bill with much of the same content as the House bill. Now Lucas wants some form of the bill to pass the Senate so the kinks can be worked out in a conference committee to meet a year-end deadline.

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