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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Changes For Ag Committee

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

            Early this week, I was reading an article from the Associated Press written by Steve Karnowski, which stated due to the election and the defeat of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in Minnesota and some key retirements on the committee, the House Ag Committee’s members and policies will change.

            Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), a long-time member and chairman of the House Ag Committee was almost always fair to the Western states. In developing the farm bill, he was the most influential and powerful member at the table. As a Democrat, he worked across the aisle easily. If he would have won this year’s election, this would have been his 16th term. 

            Coming from Minnesota, Peterson certainly backed corn, soybeans and dairy. 

Former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “He was a skilled negotiator, which you need to have to get farm bills through the process.”

  Vilsack, who was also a former Democratic governor of Iowa, said Peterson’s departure will be particularly difficult for the sugar, biofuels and dairy industries. Ag insurance issues and others in the farm bill will be open for discussion and looked into to analyze the costs to the taxpayers.

            There are also big changes to the Senate Ag Committee as well. If the Republicans keep control of the Senate, Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas is expected to become the next chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, replacing Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Neither Sen. Roberts or Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas, ranking Republican in the House Ag Committee, sought reelection.

Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, said, “The contest remains the most talked about political race to anybody in agriculture. The departures of Peterson, Roberts and Conaway will cost the agriculture committees 85 years of collective farm policy experience.” 

This is the reason agriculture spent so much money on Rep. Peterson’s election.

            Democrats on the House Committee said they would have priorities such as the nutrition programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – which is now food stamps – as well as programs for women and children and the National School Lunch Programs. 

They had less to say about crop subsidy and insurance programs, which more directly affect farmers and other producers. Those wanting to be chairman of the House Ag Committee are talking up nutrition because they will need votes from urban lawmakers to get elected. 

            Other priorities Democrats are addressing are unjust treatment for black farmers, the contamination of ground and surface water from fertilizer and manure and agriculture’s role in the climate crisis.

            We know there is going to be change, but how much? How will change affect the agriculture of the western states? How will it affect those who produce livestock across the nation? How will it affect the price of grains?

            We will just have to wait and see. There have always been issues in agriculture – some we win and some we lose, some hurt and others make us feel good.

            We wish all of our readers and their families a very Happy Thanksgiving.  

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