Committee on Agriculture

Frank Lucas

Lucas Applauds USDA for Moving Forward with Implementing Critical Drought Assistance for Farmers

2014/10/21

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement welcoming the news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will move forward with implementing the Actual Production History (APH) adjustment for 2015 spring-planted crops. This crop insurance provision in the Agricultural Act of 2014 allows yield adjustments when losses are widespread and beyond the control of producers. 

"I commend Secretary Vilsack and his team on their efforts to implement this critical provision in the farm bill. The APH adjustment means everything to farmers all across the country who have suffered through year after year of devastating drought conditions. It is the difference between having viable crop insurance for the coming year or not. It is for these reasons that I worked to include the APH adjustment in the farm bill and why I am pleased the Secretary redoubled his efforts to get it done this year. I remain hopeful that USDA will also work to make the same relief available to winter wheat producers."

 

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Subcommittee Focuses on Benefits of Soil Health, Conservation Practices

2014/09/18

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America. Healthy soil is critical to help producers both feed the world and protect the environment. Congress recognized this after the nation suffered a devastating drought, which led to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Congress established the Soil Conservation Service as a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1935. The agency was later renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Discussion during the hearing centered on the history and role of the agency, efforts to improve soil health on the state and local level, how the new farm bill will improve conservation practices and soil management, and what other methods can be taken to protect our natural resources.

"Farmers are the original environmentalists and I am pleased to see so many farmers in Pennsylvania and across the country engaging in innovative practices to promote soil health. I am proud of this committee and the important work under the 2014 Farm Bill to improve and expand voluntary conservation programs, including in the area of soils. I also want to thank the Natural Resources Conservation Service, including Chief Weller, for their tireless work to implement these programs and help our farmers and producers enhance conservation practices in this particular area. These are important tools that will enable agriculture to produce the food necessary for an increasing population on less acres, while assisting farmers and ranchers in positive stewardship of the land," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA-5).

"Research shows us that employing cover crops can significantly benefit both the environment and farmer’s bottom lines. Today’s hearing was an opportunity to learn more about these successes while looking at ways to address any challenges related to implementing cover crops, such as ensuring cover crop use doesn’t make producers ineligible for crop insurance or other safety net programs," said Ranking Member Timothy Walz (D-MN-01).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. Click here for the archived webcast.

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. John Larson, CEO, National Association of Conservation Districts, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Shanon Phillips, Director, Water Quality, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mr. Jim Harbach, Farm Manager, Schrack Farms, Loganton, Pennsylvania

Ms. Jill Sackett, Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems, University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office, Mankato, Minnesota

 

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Lucas & LaMalfa Praise CFTC Vote that Dials Back Regulatory Reach

2014/09/17

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Doug LaMalfa today issued statements after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) voted, 4-0, to exempt producers, utility companies, and other non-financial entities from being required to register as swap dealers when they enter into energy contracts with government-owned utilities. 

The rule largely reflects the intent of H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa. The House Agriculture Committee advanced this bipartisan bill that ultimately won unanimous support on the House floor last year. Further, it was included within H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act, that passed in the House this summer.

"I am pleased this is the agenda and outcome of the first open meeting under Chairman Massad's leadership. It is encouraging to see common sense has prevailed on a regulatory issue that is critical to the livelihoods of so many. The House acted with one, united voice and I applaud the CFTC for following suit thereby protecting Americans from electricity and natural gas rate increases," said Chairman Frank Lucas.

"I am pleased the CFTC finalized a rule consistent with the intent of my bill, H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act which was also included in, H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act. Not only will the CFTC’s decision to implement this rule help to ensure continued growth in our agriculture sector, but most importantly, it will protect public power utilities’ access to risk management practices, and in turn, protect American ratepayers from escalating energy prices due to misguided regulations," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

Background:

The CFTC's regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act had strained the ability of public utility companies to use commodity swaps to manage risk in their operations. Non-financial entities can engage in up to $3 billion (subject to an initial three year phase-in level of $8 billion) in most swap activities, including with a private utility, before being regulated as a swap dealer. But with a public utility, they can only engage in $25 million in swap activities.

The restrictive regulations served as a deterrent for many to do business with public utilities, which limited the ability of public utilities to protect themselves and their customers from increased costs and market volatility.  Ultimately, this unequal and illogical treatment of public utilities would have caused Americans’ electric and natural gas rates to increase.

On March 11, 2013, Rep. Doug LaMalfa introduced H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act. The bill would allow producers, utility companies, and other non-financial entities to continue entering into energy swaps with government-owned utilities without danger of being required to register with the CFTC as a swap dealer.

On March 20, 2013, the House Agriculture Committee advanced H.R. 1038 by voice vote.

On June 12, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1038 with a 423-0 vote. The U.S. Senate has failed to consider the bill.

On December 11, 2013, Sen. Joe Donnelly introduced S. 1802, the Public Power Risk Management Act. It has bipartisan support with 13 original cosponsors.  The U.S. Senate has failed to consider it. 

On March 26, 2014, the CFTC issued a No-Action Letter that reconsidered the treatment of public utilities under the Dodd-Frank Act. Chairman Lucas and Rep. LaMalfa emphasized the fact that a No-Action Letter is not the rule of law.

On June 24, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act, by a vote of 265-144. The bill included H.R. 1038.

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Committee Examines Implementation of Pilot Projects to Help Struggling Americans Reduce Dependency on Food Stamps & Gain Employment

2014/09/17

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas held a public hearing to review the implementation of state pilot projects under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of the Agricultural Act of 2014. SNAP is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritional, low-cost diet. One of the reforms in the 2014 Farm Bill included new Employment and Training pilot projects. They allow for up to ten states to develop and test methods to help adults secure employment and job training and reduce their dependency on SNAP. On August 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the Request for Applications and Request for Proposals for the pilot projects setting in motion the next phase of implementation.

"It is important to maintain an open line of communication with USDA as it implements the Agricultural Act of 2014.  Today’s hearing was a part of that process and I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s participation and commend his efforts to date.  The work pilot projects are a response to a need to help struggling Americans find employment and earn higher wages so they are no longer dependent on federal food assistance.  I was encouraged to hear the Secretary is focused on a broad range of projects to help determine the best strategies states can use to help Americans get back to work and off of SNAP.  I am hopeful we will soon see a positive outcome as a result of these projects,” said Chairman Frank Lucas. 

"The work pilot programs discussed today are an example of the bipartisan, cooperative work the Agriculture Committee does so well. We authorized these pilot projects because we value work and we want to put people back to work. Keeping a close eye on farm bill implementation is a top Committee priority and I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about USDA’s efforts to implement the SNAP work pilot programs," said Ranking Member Collin Peterson.

Written testimony provided by the witness is linked below. The archived webcast is linked here.

Witness List:

Panel I

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

 

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The benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America

2014/09/12

Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 11:30 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry – Public Hearing RE: The benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America

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To review the implementation of Section 4022 of the Agricultural Act of 2014: Pilot projects to reduce dependency and increase work requirements and work efforts under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

2014/09/10

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Full Committee – Public Hearing RE: To review the implementation of Section 4022 of the Agricultural Act of 2014: Pilot projects to reduce dependency and increase work requirements and work effort under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  

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Subcommittee Examines Forest Service's Plan to Manage Groundwater

2014/09/10

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive. The U.S. Forest Service has developed a proposal to manage groundwater resources on Natural Forest System land. This proposal manages groundwater uses, establishes new processes and procedures for special use authorizations that involve access to and withdrawal of groundwater resources, and addresses components of numerous Federal initiatives involving water, the Forest Service’s emphasis as a water agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s vision for water management in the National Forest system.

Members of the subcommittee heard from the chief of the U.S. Forest Service who explained more about the policy and potential outcomes. Other witnesses included stakeholders from state organizations and the agricultural community who discussed their perspectives and concerns about the proposal.

"The topic of water and forest management is critically important for all Americans - especially so for our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities who live off the land. I am gravely concerned that this directive would create more problems than it proclaims to solve, and will further undermine the ability of the Forest Service to carry out its management responsibilities. Furthermore, I and many others question the agency’s legal authority to regulate groundwater in the manner proposed in the directive. I strongly believe that this action is a direct infringement of the states’ authority.  I look forward to working with Chief Tidwell and the Forest Service to ensure that the concerns of states, private landowners, and users of the National Forest System, including timber producers, are addressed," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA-5).

The National Forest System encompasses 193 million acres of Federal land – much of which is located in the headwaters and recharge areas of the nation’s streams and aquifers, and as a result, provides sources of drinking water for 66 million people in 33 States and Puerto Rico. The Forest Service issued the proposal in May with public comment until October 3.

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. Click here for the archived webcast.

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. Tony Willardson, Executive Director, Western States Water Council, Murray, Utah

Mr. Don Shawcroft, President, Colorado Farm Bureau, Centennial, Colorado

Mr. Scott A. Verhines, New Mexico State Engineer, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

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Lucas Praises House Passage of Bill to Block EPA's Latest Attack on American Agriculture

2014/09/09

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, by a vote of 262-152. This legislation prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing and enforcing a proposed rule that would redefine "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act, or using the rule as a basis for future administrative actions. It is the authority of Congress, not the administration, to change the scope of the Clean Water Act.

"I am pleased the House approved this bipartisan, commonsense bill to block the EPA from expanding its control of our nation’s land and water resources. 

"Whether it's trying to regulate farm dust out of existence, milk as oil, or now treat ditches like major water tributaries, the EPA has demonstrated a hunger for power and a lack of understanding of how its actions impact America’s farmers and ranchers. The agency's latest action would trigger an onslaught of additional permitting and regulatory requirements for our agricultural producers to protect not our great natural resources, but rather our backyard ponds. 

"It is an underhanded way to harm American agriculture and threaten America’s food security. I urge Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring H.R. 5078 to the floor for swift Senate passage," said Chairman Frank Lucas. 

 

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To review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive

2014/09/03

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry – Public Hearing RE:To review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive  

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Lucas Statement on O'Malia Departure

2014/08/08

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas today released the following statement on Scott O'Malia's last day as Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Last month, O’Malia announced he would resign to pursue other opportunities.  

“Scott O’Malia never lost sight of the fact that regulatory actions have consequences both intended and unintended.  He served as a voice of reason and an advocate for a balanced approach to regulatory reform in the U.S. 

“I appreciated his leadership as chairman of the agency’s Technology Advisory Committee, which was crucial in highlighting that technology is at the center of our markets and the Commission must modernize to fulfill its responsibility. 

“I am grateful for his service and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.”

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Contact Information

1301 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2171
Fax 202-225-0917
agriculture.house.gov


Membership

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Chris Collins

NEW YORK's 27th DISTRICT

Michael Conaway

TEXAS' 11th DISTRICT

Rick Crawford

ARKANSAS' 1st DISTRICT

Rodney L. Davis

ILLINOIS' 13th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

Scott DesJarlais

TENNESSEE's 4th DISTRICT

Stephen Fincher

TENNESSEE's 8th DISTRICT

Bob Gibbs

OHIO's 7th DISTRICT

Chris Gibson

NEW YORK's 19th DISTRICT

Bob Goodlatte

VIRGINIA's 6th DISTRICT

Vicky Hartzler

MISSOURI's 4th DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Steve King

IOWA's 4th DISTRICT

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Vance McAllister

LOUISIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Reid Ribble

WISCONSIN's 8th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Austin Scott

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

Scott Tipton

COLORADO's 3rd DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT