2010 Federal Elections: Results from Ag Perspective

This blog is reposted from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. CalCAN is a member of NSAC, and will be collaborating with them on the 2012 Farm Bill to identify opportunities for funding to support agricultural practices that have climate benefits and  increase climate resilience.

Below is a quick take on 2010 election results for the Agriculture Committees and the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees in the House and Senate.  Should anything change as a result of late tabulations or recounts, we will issue a revised story.

House Ag

On the House side, where Republicans have apparently gained a 239-185 majority (as of noon Wednesday), 15 Democrats out of 28 on the House Ag Committee lost their seats, including primary supporters of certain previous NSAC policy campaigns such as Steve Kagen (D-WI), Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD), and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).  The majority of the ousted committee members were moderate to conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

Frank Lucas (R-OK), the current ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, is expected to become the new committee chairman.

The change in leadership bodes poorly for current chairman Collin Peterson’s (D-MN) campaign to write and pass the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill in 2011; according to Peterson, in a DTN interview, “Lucas doesn’t want to move as quickly [on the next farm bill].  He has got this idea it will be better if he waits.   I don’t think that’s true, but that’s his prerogative.”  Peterson added: “I think direct payments are a sure deal in the next farm bill. There won’t be any change in direct payments.”

While Peterson had intended to shift some money out of the traditional commodity programs into revenue insurance in the upcoming edition of the Farm Bill, Lucas has been a strong supporter of the direct payments program, reflecting his mix of commodity growers.  For instance, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau decided last week that keeping direct payments will be the group’s biggest farm policy priority.

Committee Republican to Democratic ratios as well as Committee assignments will be made in late January, after new members are sworn in.  The Democrats will likely have the opportunity to add a small number of representatives to flesh out their numbers on the committee, while the number of Republicans sitting on the committee will likely increase by around ten.

House Agriculture Committee Election Results, Democrats:

Collin Peterson, Minnesota, Chairman
Tim Holden, Pennsylvania, Vice Chair
Mike McIntyre, North Carolina
Leonard Boswell, Iowa
Joe Baca, California
Dennis Cardoza, California
David Scott, Georgia
Jim Marshall, Georgia
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, South Dakota

Henry Cuellar, Texas
Jim Costa, California
Brad Ellsworth, Indiana
– retired to run for Senate
Tim Walz, Minnesota
Steve Kagen, Wisconsin
Kurt Schrader, Oregon
Debbie Halvorson, Illinois
Kathy Dahlkemper, Pennsylvania
Bobby Bright, Alabama
Betsy Markey, Colorado
Frank Kratovil, Maryland
Mark Schauer, Michigan

Larry Kissell, North Carolina
John Boccieri, Ohio
Scott Murphy, New York

Bill Owens, New York
Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota
Travis Childers, Mississippi
Walt Minnick, Idaho

There are no changes on the Republican side of the House Agriculture Committee other than the exit of Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who successfully sought a seat in the Senate.

House Ag Appropriations

On the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, three Democrats lost their seats and one did not run for re-election. The committee will likely be chaired in the next Congress by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the current ranking minority member.

House Ag Appropriations Committee Election Results, Democrats:

Rosa DeLauro (CT), Chairman
Sam Farr (CA)
Allen Boyd (FL)
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA)
Lincoln Davis (TN)
Marcy Kaptur (OH)
Chet Edwards (TX)
Maurice D. Hinchey (NY)
David R. Obey (WI), Ex Officio – did not seek re-election

There are no changes to the Republican side of the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee ledger.

Senate Ag

Though Democrats retained a slight edge in the Senate, the current Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), was roundly defeated. The three other Democrats up for re-election, Senators Leahy (D-VT), Bennet (D-CO) and Gillibrand (D-NY), retained their seats.

The committee chairmanship will likely pass to Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a proponent of specialty crops, nutrition, research, and climate and energy provisions in the last farm bill and other legislation.  However, there is still a possibility that Kent Conrad (D-ND) will decide to use his seniority to claim the Ag Chair and give up his chairmanship of the Budget Committee, and there continues to be some talk about scenarios in which Ben Nelson (D-NE) might become Ag Chair.  The betting right now though seems to be on Stabenow.

The eventual chair will help shape the direction of the 2012 Farm Bill; Michigan’s specialty-crop agricultural landscape – and Stabenow’s agricultural priorities – are likely to angle the bill in a different direction from the two Senators from more traditional commodity states.

Stabenow staked claim to the chairmanship in a statement this morning, “”With the next farm bill right around the corner, I am ready once again to advocate for and strengthen this critical part of our economy for Michigan and our country.”

There are no exiting Senators on the Republican side of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

One very interesting complication for the 2012 Farm Bill is the fact that six Democrats (Conrad, Stabenow, Nelson, Brown, Casey, Klobuchar) and one Republican (Lugar) are all up for re-election that year.  All other things being equal, that fact, plus the presidential race that year, will make it more difficult to complete a farm bill on time.

Senate Ag Appropriations

On the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, two Republican members, Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Christopher Bond (R-MO), retired, as did Democrat Byron Dorgan (D-ND).  The only other Senator leaving Ag Appropriations is Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), who lost his primary earlier this year.  Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) is expected to stay on as the Chair, while a new Ranking Member will be named by the Republican Caucus in January.

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