By Tom Hance and Dale Thorenson
The upcoming election will not only determine the next U.S. president, but also control of the Senate and agriculture committees in both chambers. The change in leadership will affect the policy agenda, including trade, anti-trust, energy and environmental issues in the near-term and how the next farm bill is developed over the longer term. The 2018 Farm Bill is effective until Sept. 30, 2023.
Democrats are expected to retain the majority in the House of Representatives, but Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (MN) is locked in a tight re-election fight in a district that President Trump won handily in 2016. If Peterson loses, the next chair (in order of seniority) could either be Representatives David Scott (GA), Jim Costa (CA) or Marcia Fudge (OH). Ranking Member Mike Conaway (TX) is also retiring and the next three members in line are Representatives Glenn Thompson (PA), Austin Scott (GA) and Rick Crawford (AK).
On the Senate side, Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (KS) is retiring and next in line on the Republican side is Senator John Boozman (AR). However, control of the Senate is very much up for grabs on election day, and if Democrats win the majority, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (MI) is expected to become Chair of the agriculture committee.
Regardless of election results, Congress and current leaders will return for a lame duck session with the potential of another COVID-19 response package and completion of FY21 appropriations bills on the to-do list. Election outcomes will impact the lame duck negotiating posture and leverage for Democrats and Republicans with a range of outcomes that won’t come into focus until later.
Tom Hance is a policy expert and Dale Thorenson is associate director of the U.S. Canola Association with Gordley Associates government relations firm in Washington, D.C.