Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Senate and House Agriculture Committees Take Shape

This is the first of a series of articles on U.S. Congressional committees particularly relevant to Mississippi River water resource issues, as the new 113th Congress begins its work in 2013.  Today's article previews the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.

Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
Chaired by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with newly-appointed Ranking Member Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), this Committee will spend much of 2013 doing what it did in 2012: attempting to get a final, comprehensive Farm Bill passed out of Congress and sent to the President's desk.  Stabenow had forged a good working relationship over the years with the former Ranking Member Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who was replaced this Congress by Cochran.  The shift in the Committee's GOP leadership will  likely mean a shift in the fortunes of southern farm landowners and producers, as Cochran is expected to be a strong advocate on the Committee for that region's interests.  Southerners on the Committee opposed the Senate's 2012 version of the Farm Bill, largely because it ended direct payments to their growers, while shifting farm program payments to insurance-like provisions that they say favored corn and soybean producers of the Midwest.

Here is the Committee member makeup, presented alphabetically.  New members are italicized; Senators from Mississippi River Basin states (which dominate the Committee) are underlined.   Links to Congressional Internet home pages are provided for Mississippi River Basin senators.

The Committee office is located in room SR-328A, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510-6000
Telephone: (202) 224-2035
Fax: (202) 228-2125

House Agriculture Committee
Like its Senate counterpart, the House Agriculture Committee's 2013 agenda will be dominated by the Farm Bill.  Having failed to pass a Farm Bill in 2012, the House is poised to once again attempt passage in 2013, starting anew, as it were, in a fiscal climate dictated by the ongoing fiscal cliff deliberations that will hold most of Congress's political attention at least through March (Neither the Senate nor the House committee will actually start from scratch, however, likely beginning 2013's activity using their respective 2012 bills as templates).

Last year's major area of Farm Bill disagreement among Committee members was ideological, centering on spending cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounts for over half of the Farm Bill's total budget.  The SNAP payment issue will be sucked into the fiscal cliff debate as that cliff reemerges as a major political issue following the President's inauguration, significantly informing the Farm Bill direct payment, SNAP and risk management deliberations on the House side, as well as in the Senate.

The Committee is lead by its Chair, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) and Ranking Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7).  Here is the Committee member makeup, presented alphabetically.  New Committee Members are italicized; Members from Mississippi River Basin districts are underlined.  Links to Congressional Internet home pages are provided for Mississippi River Basin representatives.

The Committee office is located in room 1301, Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Telephone: (202) 225-2171
Tel: (202) 225-0917

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