There are a large number of new members of the House Agriculture Committee and the chairman of the committee, Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says training the new members is just a part of the challenge he faces.
"Half of the 46-member committee has never served on the Agriculture Committee before; got educate them and get them up to speed.," Lucas said. "We've got a myriad of challenges going on out there from USDA to EPA to a variety of other agencies so we're going to do lots of oversight hearings. And work our way through the budget process this year as we prepare to write the next five-year comprehensive Farm Bill in 2012."
Lucas says the oversight hearings will help the new ag committee members better understand what lies ahead. As for the challenges with EPA, Lucas says we face several full committee and many sub-committee hearings ahead.
"I hope we can help encourage them to reconsider some of the actions they are taking," Lucas said. "If not we'll use the justification and the information gained from these hearings then to go to our friends on Appropriations and say, 'Maybe we shouldn't be spending money in the next bookkeeping year on things that are contrary to science, contrary to law, and contrary to economic rationale.'"
With all of the challenges faced by the House Ag Committee, Lucas says writing the next farm bill will not begin until 2012.