“Gentlemen, say that there are, in this country, three interests, the agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing. And how happens it, sir, that the agricultural, the great leading and substantial interest in this country, has no committee; no organized tribunal in this House to hear and determine on their grievances? If the commercial or manufacturing interests are affected, the cry resounds throughout the country; remonstrances flow in upon us; they are referred to committees appointed for the purpose of guarding them, and adequate remedies are provided. But, sir, when agriculture is oppressed, and makes complaint, what tribunal is in this House to hear and determine on the grievances?”
And thus, Lewis Williams, a U.S. Representative from Surrey County, N.C., in 1820, sponsored a resolution to create the House Committee on Agriculture. Since then, the committee has been led by 48 Republicans and Democrats, and it has grown in size and scope of jurisdiction. And while the number of lawmakers with direct ties to agriculture has dwindled over the years, the committee’s focus has remained the same – maintaining a healthy agricultural industry.
Fortunately for today’s farmers and ranchers, the committee’s chairman is one of their own – Frank Lucas, a farmer and rancher from Western Oklahoma.
Lucas’ family, corn and cotton farmers, moved to what was the Oklahoma Territory in 1900 and 1905. They have been in the same part of Western Oklahoma since then, through the Great Depression, severe droughts and multiple economic downturns.
After earning a degree in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University and serving the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, Lucas was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1994. In addition to recently being re-elected to his 11th term and noting that he has crossed the 4 million mile-mark flying between Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma for the last 20 years, Lucas says he has worked very hard to be a working farmer and rancher with his wife and a part of his community.
“Lynda Lucas is the herdsman as I like to refer to her. She runs the operation during the week,” he says. “That’s given me a perspective – not only being on the farm every weekend with Lynda but being home with my neighbors, my fellow farmers, ranchers and citizens. You’d be surprised at the advice you get on a Sunday morning, after the basketball game on Friday night or at a family gathering on Saturday.”
Agricultural Act of 2014
While his term as the helm of the Agriculture Committee is nearing its end, Lucas’ impact on American agriculture is most evident in what he calls his single biggest accomplishment as chairman – passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, which he says is different than previous Farm Bills.
Doing away with the old direct payment program in the commodity title and strengthening the safety net for livestock producers, Lucas says the “fundamental guise in this farm bill is insurance.” In fact, the 2014 Farm Bill includes livestock disaster assistance for losses dating back to 2012 (when previous livestock disaster assistance expired), including, most notably, the Livestock Indemnity Program for death loss due to agricultural disasters and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program for drought and fire losses to grazing capacity.
“My family has lived in a part of the world where the soil is measured in inches, not feet, and where until I was 17, I didn’t know you could have a prayer that didn’t ask for rain,” he says. “I’ve lived in a volatile economic market, getting through gyrations that Mother Nature put us through. Trying to provide a safety net to my fellow farmers and ranchers across the country is something I believe in.
“No farmer wants an insurance check. We want a good livestock or grain crop. We want a good price. We want good markets. But when things are beyond our control, or has been the case occasionally in my lifetime, have been manipulated by outside forces, outside governments or even sometimes government actions here at home – then these safety nets are necessary,” he says.
Drafting the Farm Bill was the first fence to cross; next came educating the other 434 members in the House of Representatives about the need for a strong farm safety net, working with the Senate Agriculture Committee and carefully maneuvering the legislation through what ended up a nearly three year process.
“After the first year and a half no one ever thought a Farm Bill would pass,” he says. “But we proved all the naysayers and doubters wrong, and we did it through regular order. We did our work in open committee and on the floor. We went to conference with the Senate. They did their work in open committee. We passed a bill the way my eighth grade civics book said you should do legislation. And I think that was good for the body.”
A good bill but not perfect
While Chairman Lucas’ pride in the 2014 Farm Bill is evident, he admits there are some things that did not get done in the legislation, including addressing the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin-labeling law (COOL). As of late October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has twice ruled the U.S. COOL law to be out of compliance with international trade obligations. He says the House-passed version of the five-year bill included language to address COOL but notes that the Senate “declined to work with it.”
The two WTO rulings against the U.S. law put COOL in a different category than the rest of the 2014 Farm Bill.
“If we don’t take definitive action, sanctions under the WTO will be imposed against certain U.S. agricultural products or other U.S. items. What the Canadians and Mexicans will as for – I can’t honestly say but I would tell you it will be the most sensitive pressure points imaginable. That’s just good negotiating. So while I would generally say the farm bill should be left alone, in this case, if you don’t take action, there will be areas of the farm economy and the general U.S. economy that will pay a horrible price.”
Passing the gavel
Just as a rancher’s job does not end when the calves are sold, Chairman Lucas’ job serving farmers and ranchers and his Western Oklahoma constituents will continue after his tenure as chairman. He will continue to serve on the agriculture committee, noting current efforts related to breaking down non-tariff trade barriers and stopping the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing burdensome regulations, including the Waters of the United States proposed rule that would expanding the agency’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.
Chairman Lucas also serves on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking and insurance. He says with its influence over the cost and availability of credit, the Financial Services Committee is a “logical place” to spend time. He will also continue working to educate his House colleagues about production agriculture.
“The lion’s share of the people I serve with are really decent people trying to reflect the focus and the needs of their constituents,” he says. “It’s just a lot of times there are occasions when members have no background, nor do their constituents, on issues as complex as production agriculture and rural America.”
He was re-elected in the November midterms, earning nearly 79 percent of the votes in the district, and says as long as that continues, he has no plans to change.
“As long as Lynda Lucas and the citizens of the third district of Oklahoma will allow me to work on their behalf – I enjoy the work. I think we’ve made progress and I want to defend that progress,” he says. “The House Agriculture Committee, and I believe to a degree myself, have established a degree of credibility with leadership on both sides of the room and the membership because they came to realize that we were trying to do things the right way, for the right reason to get the right results for everyone’s constituents.”Read More
Last week, Congress voted on and passed a bipartisan spending bill that will fund the federal government through the rest of the bookkeeping year. This legislation, also known as an omnibus, combines twelve different appropriations bills into a single bill.
This year the omnibus contributed to $165 billion in overall spending cuts since 2010, while protecting jobs, strengthening our nation’s national security, and directing funds to many vital parts of our government. It also includes several provisions and budget cuts directed at areas where the government has overstepped its bounds.
For example, the IRS budget has been cut by $345.6 million amid reports earlier this year of gross incompetence and abuse of power, and Obamacare will not receive another dollar in new spending.
Farmers and ranchers will receive needed relief from regulatory overreach by the EPA. The spending bill cuts the agency’s staffing to its lowest levels since 1989 and requires them to withdraw a new rule under the Clean Water Act that would’ve allowed government regulation of on-farm irrigation ditches or ponds.
This bill also does not provide a single dime for President Obama’s unilateral executive amnesty.
In fact, it challenges the president’s entire approach on immigration by withholding yearlong funding for the Department of Homeland Security. This sets up a real debate on amnesty and illegal immigration for next month so the new Republican majority in the House and Senate can fully weigh in on the issue.
Apart from signing or vetoing legislation, the president’s responsibility is to implement the law, not write the law or rule by decree. The showdown on the president’s immigration policy will occur next year and there will be several more debates throughout the rest of his two years in office.
It’s clear from the recent election that President Obama’s unpopular policies are what cost many of his fellow Democrats their job in Congress. As a result, Republicans will take control of the Senate and have the largest majority in the House since the 1920’s.
The shift in power means we now have a new set of chairmen and chairwomen who control the hearing schedule, we now have the ability to control the appropriations process, and the Senate will now control the confirmation process – meaning they do not have to approve executive appointments or treaty proposals.
Through his actions and rhetoric over the course of the last six years, the president has made himself into a lame duck. He is beyond salvaging his failed agenda. His only remaining option is to drag the rest of us down through political gamesmanship, and I will not be complicit in allowing that to happen.
This spending agreement isn’t perfect, but it represents real priorities and most importantly keeps the federal government open. It keeps the USDA offices open; it keeps Social Security offices open; and it ensures our country’s servicemen and women receive their hard earned paychecks.
We now have an opportunity to return to a regular legislative order. The president’s policies have caused grief not only to his own party, but the American people at large. In the 114th Congress, I look forward to reversing this trend by supporting commonsense policies that will get our country back on track.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, voted today to support passage of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIA), legislation that helps establish insurance coverage for acts of terrorism. This bill strengthens economic growth and security in our country by providing certainty over the next six years to American enterprises.
“The long-term extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance program means greater stability for our nation’s job creators. We cannot allow grave threats from the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations to stifle our country’s growing economy. Rebuilding is a critical element in standing up to terrorism, and I believe this wartime measure provides an extremely important piece of mind for consumers and industries in the United States,” said Congressman Lucas.
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act originally established the Federal Terrorism Insurance Program in 2002 to oversee a public-private system of compensation for insured losses due to acts of terrorism after many businesses were unable to purchase insurance protection following the attacks of September 11. Since its inception, the program has incurred a net cost of zero dollars to the United States Treasury.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s recent announcement that he will issue an executive order to prevent the deportation of millions of immigrants who entered the United States illegally.
“Rather than working with Congress on the issue of immigration, President Obama has declared amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. The president’s brazen use of executive action to bypass our nation’s immigration laws threatens the sanctity of our border, does nothing to stem the growing tide of illegal immigration and delays the prospect of fixing our legal immigration system.
“The president’s single-minded approach on immigration will not work, and he must remember that it is his constitutional duty to implement, not write, the law. If he is serious about immigration reform, President Obama must first work with Congress to secure the border and enforce, rather than ignore, our nation’s laws,” said Congressman Lucas.Read More
Thirteen years ago, our nation suffered one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in modern history. The lives of thousands of innocent Americans were suddenly taken by an evil we did not yet fully understand.
September 11th was a sobering moment for the entire country. When it finally hit home, it came as a complete shock.
I will never forget that morning in my Washington office. Much like my grandparent’s generation that could tell you where they were when Pearl Harbor was announced or my parent’s generation when they heard the news of President Kennedy’s assassination, I will always remember watching the live footage on TV of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center before police officers evacuated us from the building.
Recovering from a tragedy of this magnitude is no simple task. However, the character of our nation was on full display that day. First responders, police officers, and firefighters selflessly fought through the soot and rubble to help survivors to safety.
In the immediate aftermath, many Americans answered the call to serve, and many have laid down their lives to fight this pervasive evil. Their service has sent a clear and resounding message to the rest of the world: The United States will not tolerate terrorism and will take decisive action to protect its citizens and interests.
Over the past decade, our country has grown to understand the harsh realities of terrorism.
Just two years ago, the horrific attack in Benghazi that took the lives of four Americans reminded us that the threat of terrorism persists. It reminded us that we cannot slip into complacency.
Today, we face the burgeoning threat of ISIS, a terrorist organization that has slaughtered countless innocent men, women, and children in the name of establishing an oppressive Islamic state. In their attempt to create a political state, they have managed to take control of significant regions in both Syria and Iraq – all while recruiting more supporters and militants to their campaign of violence.
ISIS has actively threatened harm to American civilians at home. The brutal filmed execution of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, only served to confirm their intent.
Unfortunately, the response from the White House has been incomplete and troubling up until this point. In January, the president dismissed the Islamic militant organization as a “J.V. team” even after they overwhelmed Iraqi security forces to take control of Fallujah. Then, just last week, when asked about the threat of ISIS, President Obama told reporters that “We don’t have a strategy yet.”
It was not until last night the president addressed the nation on this matter. I am glad he acknowledged the threat of ISIS and laid out a general strategy to dismantle the militant organization. However, words alone will not defeat these extremists.
I wish the president had come to this observation before the Islamic state had the opportunity to develop into such a critical national security threat.
We are dealing with extremists who will do whatever it takes to hurt American citizens, which requires a definitive and serious response. In the coming days, I will review the president’s plan to ensure our military has the tools and resources to carry out this mission.Read More
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas issued the following statement today upon passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act. This legislation prohibits the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing, implementing, and enforcing a proposed rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. It is the authority of Congress, not the administration, to change the scope of the Clean Water Act.
“I’m pleased the House approved this commonsense legislation to block the EPA from expanding its control of our nation’s land and water resources. This bipartisan bill will preserve states’ rights and it ensures the Obama administration consult state and local officials on any future proposal to regulate our nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act.
“The EPA is once again seeking to overstep its authority and we are here to remind them of the balance of powers. The agency’s proposed rule to redefine waters of the United States would trigger an onslaught of additional red tape for farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and across the nation. Protecting our natural resources is a noble cause and one that the agriculture community stands solidly behind. However, the EPA’s proposed rule is an underhanded way to harm American agriculture and threaten our country’s food security,” said Congressman Lucas.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas today issued the following statement upon passage of H.R. 4315, the 21st Century Endangered Species Transparency Act. Lucas was a cosponsor of the legislation, which passed the House 233-190.
“Farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma have gone to great lengths to comply with arbitrary listings of threatened species on their land. These listings often carry increased regulatory burdens that damage our local economies.
“I am pleased the House passed this commonsense legislation to promote openness in the listing process and provide land owners with a greater degree of certainty.”
This legislation would require the Secretary of Interior to publicly disclose the best scientific and commercial data available that are the basis for regulation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Earlier this month, Congressman Lucas joined several House colleagues in sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting an analysis of cost and effectiveness of USDA conservation programs on the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LPC), found in parts of Oklahoma. Despite its recent population increase of more than 20 percent, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the LPC as threatened under the ESA; an action seemingly at odds with the best available data.
This year we have witnessed an astounding surge of illegal immigration, specifically from the countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It’s been estimated that over 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since October of last year. Consequently, state and local governments are finding themselves overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility to provide care and housing for these thousands of children and teenagers.
In response to the flood of immigration, several military bases have been designated by the government as temporary housing. In Oklahoma, roughly a thousand immigrant minors are currently staying in Fort Still, and it remains unclear for how long. The Department of Health and Human Services has even requested to house these children through January of next year.
The sharp increase in illegal immigration has led President Obama to request $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress. According to the White House, the money will be used to hire more immigration judges to speed up deportation hearings, provide additional medical attention for immigrants, and pay border patrol agents overtime.
However, only a small portion of that money would be spent to address border security – the root cause of this crisis. A larger fraction of this funding would go to housing and transporting these minors to various temporary facilities within the United States.
There is nothing compassionate about the Administration’s response on this issue. President Obama’s mixed signals and refusal to fully enforce our current immigration laws has sent a green light to Central American families seeking to send their children to the United States.
Another aspect of this problem – and an area where the president can work with Congress – is a 2008 human trafficking law that has unintentionally complicated the deportation process for individuals from countries other than Mexico or Canada. Regardless of origin, all illegal immigration must be dealt with equitably.
Basically what the current situation amounts to – and the way the Administration has handled the issue – is if a minor from another country enters the United States, the government will release the child to a relative until a deportation trial months, even years later, which many do not even show up for.
These families are paying dangerous drug traffickers thousands of dollars to transport their children to our southern border. And not only will these drug traffickers continue to profit, this unchecked illegal immigration will incentivize more families to send their children on the perilous, potentially deadly, journey through Mexico to our border.
This situation has evolved into a humanitarian crisis with the potential to become even worse. If President Obama wants to send a clear message to Central America, he can start by enforcing our country’s immigration laws and working with Congress to secure the border.Read More
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas is pleased to announce upcoming town hall meetings to be held in Alfalfa, Beaver, Cimarron, Texas and Woods counties June 2&3. All residents of these locations are invited to attend a meeting and express their opinions. Congressman Lucas will be discussing current events in Washington, taking questions about issues important to constituents of the Third Congressional District, and asking for opinions and input on legislation currently before Congress.
Monday, June 2:
Boise City Town Hall Meeting 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. PTCI Room 115 West Main Street
Guymon Town Hall Meeting 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. PTCI Meeting Room 607 South Main
Beaver Town Hall Meeting 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Beaver County Farm Bureau 812 South Douglas
Tuesday, June 3: Cherokee Town Hall Meeting 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Alfalfa County Farm Bureau 113 South Grand
Alva Town Hall Meeting 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. NWOSU Student Center, Ranger Room 709 Oklahoma Avenue
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas today made the following statement after the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2015. This is the fifty-third consecutive NDAA, and it is the key mechanism to provide funding for our nation’s military.
“I am very pleased the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act today to provide for the common defense of the United States,” said Lucas. “I commend Chairman McKeon and members of the House Armed Services Committee for their hard work and diligence in preparing the NDAA to meet the constitutional obligation of protecting our great country.
“H.R. 4435 equips our Department of Defense (DoD) with the resources needed to protect American citizens in a constantly changing security environment. It provides our men and women in uniform the tools they need to protect our national security interests domestic and abroad. The NDAA also reaffirms the nuclear deterrence of Iran as a vital national security interest, as well as continues to build upon our longstanding alliance with Israel by investing in their missile defense programs. Further, it prevents the President from using funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to American soil.
“It is crucial that we always provide adequate resources for our nation’s military, and I am pleased H.R. 4435 accomplishes this important goal. It is my hope this NDAA will be passed in the Senate and signed into law by President Obama.”
2311 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Frank Lucas is a fifth generation Oklahoman whose family has lived and farmed in Oklahoma for over 100 years. Born on January 6, 1960 in Cheyenne, Oklahoma, Lucas graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1982 with a degree in Agricultural Economics. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in a special election in 1994, and is currently serving his 11th term as a Member of Congress.
Frank proudly represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District includes all or portions of 32 counties in northern and western Oklahoma, stretching from the Oklahoma panhandle to parts of Tulsa, and from Yukon to Altus in the southwest. It takes up almost half the state’s land mass and is one of the largest agricultural regions in the nation. Lucas has been a crusader for the American farmer since being elected to Congress in 1994 as well as working to protect Oklahoma values.
Congressman Lucas serves as the Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. In addition, he serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
Frank also serves as a member of the Republican Whip Team. The Republican Whip Team is led by Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA-22). The representatives who are members of the team serve as leaders in their party and work with the Republican leadership team to ensure every American’s voice is heard in Congress.
Prior to his service in the U.S. Congress, Lucas served for five and a half years in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, where he tirelessly defended the rights of private property owners and focused on promoting agriculture issues.
Frank and his wife Lynda have three children and one grandchild. The Lucas family belongs to the First Baptist Church in Cheyenne.
Retweeted by RepFrankLucas
My family has lived in a part of the world where the soil is measured in inches, not feet, and where until I was 17, I didn't know you could
Last week, Congress voted on and passed a bipartisan spending bill that will fund the federal government through the rest of the bookkeeping
Proud to see Oklahoma join several other states in a lawsuit against President Obama’s executive amnesty. The president needs to be reminded
Just finished recording an American Forces Network message to our troops serving overseas during the holiday season. Their service and sacrifice
Last week, I joined Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc. to discuss my experience working to pass the Farm Bill and what we can expect down the road.