Ag News

What does the future of the Congressional Ag Committees look like?

IARN — Going into the 2020 election, we knew there was going to be a shake up of leadership coming on the House and Senate Ag Committees. Both Senate Ag Committee Chairman Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and House Ag Committee Ranking Member Congressman Michael Conaway (R-TX 11th) were going to be retiring. Along with House Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN 7th) and Senate Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), they shaped the look of agriculture legislation for the past several years. Two legs of the stool were going to be leaving.

Then election night 2020 happened.

House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson lost his reelection bid. He had been in office since he first won election in 1991.

Now there is one.

So, with three legs of the stool gone, who will Senator Stabenow be looking at working with on future Farm Bills. There is much speculation, according to seniority on the Committees and the determination of the 2020 election.

As Democrats look to hold on to control of the House of Representatives, there are a few possible Democratic successors to Chairman Peterson. They include David Scott (D-GA 13th), Jim Costa (D-CA 20th), and Marsha Fudge (D-OH 11th).

The Senate’s Chairmanship has more question marks, depending on who wins control of the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress. As of now, Republicans look to maintain control of the chamber. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be the next in line to lead the committee; however, it is very unlikely that he would be willing to step down as majority leader to take on Chairmanship of the Ag Committee. If you look beyond McConnell, you see Senator John Boozman (R-AR) or Senator John Hoeven (R-ND)

The dynamic of the Ag committees is different than what you may be used to on other committees. They are not as divided by party lines as they are by geographical distances. Lawmakers are always expected to deliver for their constituents. With the chance of both committees being held by southern lawmakers, we could see a shift of focus going to cotton and peanuts because, in those states, corn and soybeans are not as large of a factor. However, when you look at the big picture, the Midwestern cash crops make up a large share of our agricultural exports and they will not be able to be ignored.

This all hangs in the balance of the final results of the 2020 election. There are a few seats still left to be decided.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network.

Photo by Dustin Hoffman

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