WASHINGTON â€” Rep. Frank Lucas was confirmed on Wednesday as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress. He will be the first Oklahoman to head the panel that helps shape the nation's farm policy.
Lucas, R-Cheyenne, a farmer and rancher who has served on the committee since first coming to Congress in 1994, promised to be a â€œstrong voice for production agriculture and rural America.â€ And he pledged to police the regulatory agencies that have an impact on farming and ranching.
Lucas, 50, has been the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee since 2009; House Republicans confirmed him as the chairman on Wednesday for the Congress that begins in January, when the GOP will control the House.
â€œAs a lifelong farmer from a diverse, agricultural state, I have lived the real world challenges farmers and ranchers face across the country,â€ Lucas said.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, called Lucas â€œthe most powerful memberâ€ of Oklahoma's five-person House delegation and â€œprobably the most influential since the late 1970s.â€ The post, he said, was recognition of Lucas' hard work and expertise.
Colin Woodall, vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said the group expects Lucas to hold the Environmental Protection Agency and other departments â€œaccountable for regulations that will stymie the success of innovative and creative cattle producers who are the very best stewards of the land.â€
Lucas has said that he will lay the groundwork next year for writing a new farm bill 2012.
It will no doubt create some conflicts between rural lawmakers who support the traditional farm safety net and Republicans intent on reducing the deficit.