The Duncan Banner

January 30, 2014

Farm bill passage spells relief for some

Steve Olafson
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — After a two-year wait, news on Wednesday that a farm bill was passed by Congress was sweeter than the sound of the evening dinner bell for many in southern Oklahoma.

The bill preserves most crop subsidies and cuts about $800 million a year from the food stamp program.

“If it’s half fair, I’ll be thrilled to death,” said Lyndel Strain, a farmer and rancher who works 2,500 acres 11 miles east of Duncan.

“We definitely need it,” he said. “It seems like it took forever and a day arguing about it.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, whose district includes Stephens County, spoke in favor of the bill on the House floor, emphasizing the compromise bill saves $23 billion.

Cole said the bill was a victory for both urban and rural interests and “restores certainty to farmers, ranchers and consumers.”

During a visit to Duncan last week, Cole said if the farm bill wasn’t passed consumers might have to pay $8 for a gallon of milk.

The House passed the bill by a 251-166 vote. The all-Republican Oklahoma congressional delegation was divided on the measure.

Cole and U.S. Reps. Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin voted aye while U.S. Reps. James Lankford and Jim Bridenstine voted nay.

Lucas, of Cheyenne, serves as House Agriculture Committee chairman and has been working on the farm bill since 2011. He called the bill a “miracle” after years of setbacks.

Lankford opposed the bill because it did not do enough to reform the food stamp program.