For more than 3 decades, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar has been impacting US farm policy. As chairman of the Senate Ag Committee in 1985, he crafted the “Freedom to Farm” Farm Bill which changed US farm policy from a supply management to a market oriented approach. Lugar told HAT that, this year, the Senate Ag Committee also crafted and passed a new Farm Bill with bipartisan support which set a new course for US Farm Policy, “The committee passed the bill in record time, and the full Senate passed it with good bipartisan support for agriculture. It was the Senate at its best.” But the House failed to pass a new 5 year Farm Bill; and, with the lame duck session of Congress quickly winding down, Lugar says there are few chances left for action to be taken on a Farm Bill.
Lugar said there is no chance a stand-alone Farm Bill will see action, but one could be included in a larger measure that deals with issues related to the fiscal cliff, “I think it is going to be almost a matter of chance. It will depend on if there is a legislative vehicle to which it could be attached.” He added this vehicle would need to have a “must pass” designation. At the end of the current session, Lugar will return to private life and a new crop of Senators and Representatives will have to pick up the pieces of what the current session does or does not do.
On Thursday, Lugar took to the Senate floor for his last floor speech. In it, he criticized fellow Senators for putting politics above governance, “I do believe that, as an institution, we have not lived up to the expectations of our constituents to make excellence in governance our top priority.” He challenged those who come after him to spend more time on policy and less on getting re-elected, “My hope is that Senators will devote much more of their energies to governance. In a perfect world, we would not only govern, we would execute a coherent strategy. That is a very high bar for any legislative body to clear. But we must aspire to it in cooperation with the President because we are facing fundamental changes in the world order that will deeply affect America’s security and standard of living.”
As for future farm policy, Lugar, one of the few farmers left in the Senate, urged lawmakers to better understand agriculture and its role domestically and internationally, “The potential global crisis over food production is less well understood. Whereas research is opening many new frontiers in the energy sphere, the productivity of global agriculture will not keep up with projected food demand unless many countries change their policies. This starts with a much wider embrace of agriculture technology, including genetically modified techniques.”[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/Lugar-last1.mp3|titles=Lugar Pessimistic ]