Ag industry reacts to election of House Speaker Johnson
On Oct. 25 Mike Johnson (R-LA) was elected as the 56th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after 22 days of gridlock following Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) departure.
In a 220 to 209 party-line vote, Johnson, a strongly conservative lawyer who represents northwest Louisiana’s Fourth District, secured the seat against Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016, Johnson served as a Constitutional lawyer in his hometown of Shreveport, La. for over two decades.
In 2021, he was elected to serve as the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference and was re-elected to serve another term in the 118th Congress.
The ag industry has welcomed Johnson’s election. Many agricultural groups have released statements encouraging bipartisan cooperation and see this as an opportunity to focus on key issues impacting agricultural sectors.
During an episode of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) Beltway Beef podcast, dated Oct. 28, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane discusses Johnson’s impact on the cattle industry as the new House Speaker.
“Johnson is someone already trusted by NCBA. Even though he has not served on the agriculture committee, he has a strong voting record regarding agriculture,” Lane says. “Those who have worked with him over the years know he’s a principled conservative, and we’ve had a long-standing relationship with him at NCBA.”
Lane notes Johnson has been a reliable supporter of agriculture and has voted for the farm and appropriation bills, which Lane believes is “a real win for cattle producers.”
Lane states, “Johnson sees the world very much as our producers around the country do, and these values overlap with NCBA’s policy book. He believes in limited government, individual liberty, free markets and traditional rural community values and perspectives. He’s going to be somebody I think will be very easy for the cattle industry to work with.”
One of Johnson’s priorities will be passing Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) spending packages, Lane notes.
“The fiscal deadline is looming and is going to be the focus for Johnson and his team over the next few weeks, but they are already working on Capitol Hill to process some of those appropriations bills and get the process moving,” Lane says.
“Inevitably, this means there will be a conference with the Senate and some sort of combined bill at some point,” he continues. “We’re hearing the possibility of a shorter-term extension into January or April to buy some time to work out a larger deal, but it is too early in the process to see if this is the case. It seems reasonable to me.”
“As I understand it, Johnson has committed his support to House Republicans in moving a farm bill forward, as farm-state Republicans did a really good job in the candidate forum meetings pushing a speaker candidate to commit to moving a farm bill,” Lane adds. “To my knowledge, Johnson did make a commitment to move the farm bill, as he has been a guy who has been in favor of farm bills in the past.”
AFBF offers congratulations
According to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) website, AFBF President Zippy Duvall congratulates Johnson on his election, stating, “AFBF congratulates Johnson on his election to Speaker of the House. Johnson has a strong history of supporting America’s farmers and ranchers, which has earned him the Friend of Farm Bureau Award multiple times.”
“America’s families are relying on Speaker Johnson and Congress to focus on pressing needs, including completion of FY24 appropriations and passage of a farm bill. The farm bill provides certainty to those who grow this nation’s food, fuel and fiber and plays a vital role in ensuring a safe and affordable food supply for everyone,” Duvall continues.
“We stand ready to work with Johnson to pass this important legislation. Every family in America is counting on his leadership,” he concludes.
Successful Farming published a news article on Oct. 26 with statements from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the North American Meat Institute.
According to the article, NCGA President and Minnesota Farmer Harold Wolle states, “We look forward to working closely with Johnson as Congress advances a farm bill that is good for corn growers and rural America. We are grateful for his previous support on issues important to corn growers, such as supporting crop insurance during the 2018 Farm Bill amendment process, opposing fertilizer duties and advocating for the Environmental Protection Agency to adhere to scientific evidence regarding critical crop protection tools.”
The North American Meat Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Julie Anna Potts also extended a supporting statement.
“Our members are a critical part of the food value chain and call on Johnson to ensure the federal government remains funded and able to address key challenges, especially persistent labor shortages and inflation,” Potts says.
On Oct. 25, the International Fresh Produce Association released a press statement congratulating Johnson on his election to the Speaker of the House.
“Louisiana is home to more than $1.17 billion in economic impact from fresh fruit, vegetable and floral products. We look forward to working with Johnson as he leads the House of Representatives in funding government programs to protect the food supply and serve agriculture, addressing growers’ critical need for a reliable workforce and passing a bipartisan farm bill which prioritizes support for the U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable industry,” the organization states.
2023 Farm Bill
at the forefront
In a related article published Oct. 25 by Agri-Pulse, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) states he was pleased to see the farm bill “on the dates of the calendar he laid out” but hasn’t discussed details of the bill with Johnson.
Thompson adds, “I think I have his trust in terms of putting the farm bill together, as he knows what needs to happen to ensure the bill has bipartisan support.”
A letter orchestrated by Brad Findtad (R-MN) was recently signed by more than 60 House Republicans urging Johnson to swiftly pass the farm bill before funding runs out for some of the key programs falling under its umbrella.
The lawmakers wrote, “The 2023 Farm Bill is a critical agenda item which must be addressed by Congress, and we urge you and the conference at large to unite and ensure a swift passage of a strong farm bill written by farmers, for farmers and by rural communities, for rural communities – supporting the farm, ranch and forester families we represent.”
As Johnson steps into his new role, he can expect the ag industry to be actively involved and advocate to maximize the potential of farmers while addressing rural development and the overall well-being of rural communities.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.