Opening Statement of Chairman Lucas at Business Meeting to Consider Organizational Matters for 112th Congress

Jan 25, 2011

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

I am honored to serve as the new Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and the first Chairman from Oklahoma. I have been a part of this committee since I was first elected to Congress in 1994, and I am proud to represent the third district of Oklahoma in this leadership role.

Agriculture is the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy, and my purpose in Congress remains to make certain that our farmers and ranchers have a strong voice in Washington. I look forward to using my experience and perspective as an Oklahoma producer to help shape our nation’s agriculture policy.

The Agriculture Committee has enjoyed strong bipartisanship throughout its long history. Mainly because we share a common belief in providing our farmers and ranchers with the necessary tools and certainty they need to produce an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply.

The work of our Committee, including reauthorizing the farm bill in 2012, affects every American and I consider it as important to our country as national defense. We have clear budget challenges with respect to the next farm bill. To effectively address those challenges in the most fiscally responsible way, we will need everyone working together.

Today, we will be voting on the rules of the Committee in the 112th Congress. In keeping with Speaker Boehner’s initiative to enhance transparency standards, our Committee is implementing measures that will increase our accountability as public servants. We will place the text of bills online for our constituents no fewer than 24 hours before a business meeting. We will also make available both live and archived webcasts of our hearings and markups.

At this time, I would like to welcome back our veteran members and introduce the 16 new GOP members who are joining us this Congress.

The distinctive characteristic of our freshmen class is that they bring with them to Washington real world experience. Many of them are small business owners, farmers, health care professionals, and community leaders. This experience and perspective will serve this Committee well as we seek to find common sense solutions to the problems rural America faces.

Let me begin the introductions in Indiana. Marlin Stutzman comes to us from the Hoosier state where he grew up on the family farm. He is the owner of a small business and has served as both a state representative and senator.

Bob Gibbs is a hog farmer from Ohio who served as President of the Ohio Farm Bureau for two terms.

Austin Scott is a bulldog from Georgia. He served nearly two decades in the Georgia General Assembly and owns an insurance agency.

We’ll have another strong voice for agriculture in Stephen Fincher who has been a farmer in the family business his entire life. Fincher Farms grows cotton, corn, soybeans, and wheat.

Scott Tipton from Colorado is an entrepreneur with experience serving as a representative in the Colorado General Assembly.

Steve Southerland is a small business owner and community leader from the second district of Florida. He has served as the chairman of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.

Rick Crawford studied Agriculture Business and Economics from Arkansas State University. In addition to working as a professional rodeo announcer, he’s also worked as a reporter and anchor covering agri-news.

Martha Roby is a native from Montgomery, Alabama where she served as a City Councilor and was an active member of various civic organizations.

Tim Huelskamp hails from Kansas where he grew up on the family farm raising corn, cattle, wheat, and soybeans. He has studied agriculture policy and has served in the Kansas Senate.

Scott DesJarlais comes to Washington from the fourth district of Tennessee. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of South Dakota and has had a medical practice for almost two decades.

Renee Ellmers is from the Tar Heel State where she has worked as a Hospital administrator and nurse. Ellmers also served as Vice President of Community Development for the Chamber of Commerce.

We have a decorated Army veteran in Representative Chris Gibson from New York. His 24 year military career includes four combat tours to Iraq.

Randy Hultgren has more than 15 years of public service to the folks of Illinois. He’s a lawyer by trade, and he has served in both the Illinois state House and Senate.

Vicky Hartzler is no stranger to agriculture or political office. She was raised on a farm in Missouri and continues to work a farm today with her family. And, she has served three terms as a Representative in the Missouri General Assembly.

Bobby Schilling is a small business owner and restaurateur. He represents the 17th district of Illinois.

And, finally, Reid Ribble is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin where he has worked as president of the family roofing business since 1981.

I welcome all of you to the Agriculture Committee. I look forward to working with my colleague and friend from Minnesota, Ranking Member Collin Peterson, along with our veteran and new Committee members as we move forward with policies that will support a strong and vibrant rural America.