Lucas: Future of the Heartland’s Economy Dependent on Working-Class Agenda

Mar 07, 2023
Economy
Press

Yukon, OK – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) joined the House Committee on Ways & Means at a field hearing in Yukon, Oklahoma examining the state of the economy for American workers, farmers, and families.

“Thank you Chairman Smith and I would like to extend a very warm welcome to you and the other members of the illustrious House Ways and Means Committee to the great state of Oklahoma. The topic of this field hearing is not only timely and appropriate, but the location is too,” said Congressman Lucas. “I cannot think of a single industry in our state that is not directly impacted by the work this Committee does. The future of ag, energy, and manufacturing in Oklahoma and across the nation is dependent on tax and trade policies that work for these industries, not against them. I look forward to joining my colleagues today in learning more about the challenges these witnesses are facing on the ground and how Congress can work to address those issues.”

Lucas discussed with Kelli Payne, former President of the Oklahoma National Stockyards, and Bryan Jackson, Owner of Route 66 Meat Processing, the impact the Biden Administration’s burdensome regulations are having on Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers, landowners.

Click here to watch Lucas’ Q&A.

On Biden Admin. regulations

Lucas: Kelli, thank you for your participation in today’s hearing and for all the work you do on behalf of cattlemen in the state. I have often said that it is the role of Congress to do things for people not to them. In your written testimony you speak about the positive impact farm bill programs have had in the cattle industry. You also touch on various regulations such as WOTUS that will harm the industry. Can you speak to the importance of collaboration with producers on the ground when crafting policy? Should we asking the people who have to live with what we’re doing?

Payne: Thank you, Congressman. As a long-time Oklahoman, I got to brag on our Delegation. I’ve always felt like we could get a hold of them, we can talk to our elected officials on the federal level. And whenever I ran the Stockyards I had the opportunity to host many of our federally-elected officials. They came to us. They understand boots on the ground. Collaboration is key…It’s critically important to get this kind of feedback so that you’re not picking winners and losers. 

Lucas: I want to turn to Bryan for just a moment. I think it was about a year and a half ago, maybe almost two years ago, you gave me a tour of the facility in Sayre. You were getting ready to fire up. For the benefit of the crowd, you and I both know state inspected meat in Oklahoma and federally inspected meat: same safety, same quality, same everything. Explain to us why the federal stamp matters- even though it costs more. Why does it matter? 

Jackson: That’s a great question, Congressman. The benefit of being U.S.D.A. inspected is there’s no restrictions on any quantity where it can go to. It can ship between states so there’s no limitation. It can even be exported if we chose to and were licensed for that.

Lucas: And that matters greatly when you’re moving your product, especially in a state where we produce so much beef, in particular. Thank you. 

Kelli, back to you. Oklahomans are a resilient people. The people of this state have a long history of responding to hardships with innovation and hard work. What have producers voluntarily done to preserve and improve their land in order to better meet the challenges of weather and prolonged drought?

Payne: We’ve obviously learned a lot. We learn more every day. We have technology in place, we just know more now than we ever have. So, whether it was the shelter belts that were planted in the 30s all the way up to current. My operation itself is in a river bottom. Very sandy soil- we call it blow sand. We have to protect that. We, on our outfit, can run about 250 mama cow. I have one cow with a calf at her side as of this morning and three bulls loaded in the trailer. Then I have seven fat steers to be able to put in the freezer here in about a year. There’s nothing there. But we had to pull those cattle off to protect that grass. If I don’t have grass, I can’t put cattle on it. So, we had to make that decision and we can’t afford hay. There’s all kind of sad, sad things going on. But to be able to put in place conservation-type practices so that we can be sustainable when it finally does start raining, Congressman. 

Lucas: Bottom line: Comprehensive Farm Bills, where make sure we have the ability to produce and consume, is critically important. And in this Farm Bill, we’ve got to address how to make the federal-inspection available to more packers. 

In February, Lucas joined House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-NC), and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson in introducing a House Joint Resolution that would would terminate the Biden WOTUS rulemaking.

In January 2023, Lucas joined Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and 193 House Republicans in sending a letter strongly opposing the Biden Administration’s recent “waters of the United States” rule.

Last year, Lucas joined then-House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Agriculture Committee Republican Leader Glenn “GT” Thompson in sending a letter to President Joe Biden calling on the Administration to reverse overly burdensome regulations and policy barriers to U.S. agriculture production that have caused needless uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, and working families.

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