Even as the so-called Super Committee has held its first meetings House Agriculture leaders are discussing how best to handle their recommendations to that committee. House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., is concerned Super Committee members could use his suggestions as a base to which they might add additional cuts. With that in mind, he and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., are talking to members of that Super Committee to ensure they understand the nature and magnitude of farm bill programs, and to persuade them to be equitable in whatever they propose.
"We're willing to do our fair share about the $14 trillion national debt," Lucas said. "But we don't want to do two, or three or four times our fair share. Whatever the Super Committee recommends we'll meet the goal but they need to remember the Farm Bill is comprehensive, it's intertwined. Whatever that number is you’ve got to let us adjust the policies so that we can cope with whatever the spending targets are, that's what we're telling the Super Committee."
Lucas notes the series of farm program audit hearings will play a role moving forward. That was an effort to look at how USDA has spent the dollars in the 2008 Farm Bill and Lucas says it will be useful when determining where spending cuts are made.
Spending has been a big obstacle for the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea due to the President's desire to include Trade Adjustment Assistance. Lucas says that disagreement remains, and says it's unfortunate the President has decided he wants that additional spending before he'll allow the U.S. to have the additional business opportunities in those three countries.
"Simple bottom line is free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama mean more dollars in producers' pockets in the United States," Lucas said. "They just need to send them down so that we can get on with competing with the Europeans and our other competitors around the world.
If the President would choose to submit the trade deals to Congress Lucas says he would expect a quick vote.