The House farm bill went down in flames on Thursday, with a final tally of 195 to 234. In a rebuke to party leadership, 62 Republicans voted against the bill along with 25 Democrats.

The failure occurred even after Speaker John Boehner’s endorsement of the legislation and an impassioned plea by Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman House Agriculture Committee, just minutes before the final vote.

The defeat drew criticism from a number of ag groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Scott George, NCBA president, said passage of the 2013 is a top NCBA priority.

“That’s why we are extremely disappointed in the failure of many members of the House for not recognizing the importance of a full five-year farm bill,” he says. “The failure by the House places cattlemen and women behind the curve on having agriculture policy which not only provides certainty for producers nationwide, but also incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry.”

George praised the efforts of Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), chair of the House Ag Committee, and Rep. Colin Peterson (D-MN), ranking member, and pledged that NCBA will continue to work toward passage of a farm bill. “This was not a perfect bill for any industry, but in the end cattlemen and women made sacrifices in order to support this bill. We expected members of the House to do the same.”

Lucas’ impassioned plea

“I’d say this to all of you: ultimately this body has to do its work” said Lucas. “Ultimately we have to move a product that we can go to conference with. Ultimately we have to work out a consensus with the Senate so that we’ll have a final document we can all consider together. Hopefully, we’ll support it and the President will sign it into law.

“I have tried in good faith, working with (Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member) and each and every one of you in every facet of these issues to achieve that consensus. I have tried...

“But we’re at this critical moment. Whether you believe the bill has too much reform or not enough -- or you believe it cuts too much or doesn’t cut enough – we have to move this document forward to achieve a common goal: to meet the needs of our citizens. No matter what part of the country, no matter whether they produce or consume the food, we have to meet the common need in a responsible fashion.

“I plead to you, I implore you. ... Vote with me to move this forward. If you care about the consumers, the producers, the citizens of this country, move this bill forward.

“If it fails today, I can’t guarantee that you’ll see in this session of Congress another attempt. ... If you care about your folks, if you care about this institution, if you care about utilizing open order, vote with me.

“And if you don’t, when you leave here they’ll just say ‘it’s a dysfunctional body, a broken institution full of dysfunctional people.’ That’s not true! You know that’s not true.

“Cast your vote in a responsible fashion. That’s all I can ask.”