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House Agriculture Committee Re-Organizes

January 18, 2011

As often happens following elections that shift the party in the majority, the new Republican leadership of the House Agriculture Committee reorganized the panel’s subcommittees.

As we previously have reported, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) is the new Chair of the Full Committee, and former Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has been named Vice Chair.

There are still six subcommittees, but some re-arranging of the deck chairs.

For a long time, the subcommittee in charge of basic USDA oversight and investigations has been the subcommittee in charge of nutrition programs.  The general oversight function has now been paired with agricultural credit issues with the creation of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit.

This new Subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) who made this provocative statement about the new panel:  “This new subcommittee role will help us continue important work on promoting new opportunities in specialized food markets and renewable energy, reconnecting rural and urban America, and exploring the challenges of growing concentration in agriculture and the increasing age of the America farmer.”

Both credit and research issues have been pealed off the subcommittee that does conservation and energy, with research added to the rural development subcommittee in what is now named the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, to be chaired by Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL) .

The conservation subcommittee is now Conservation, Energy, and Forestry and will be chaired by Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA).

The stand alone subcommittee on fruits and vegetables and organic farming from the last two Congresses has now been linked with nutrition issues in the new Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture.  Organic has been removed from the title of the subcommittee but remains in the statement of jurisdiction.

The subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), who mentioned nutrition policy and oversight of EPA rulemaking as priorities in her acceptance statement.  Schmidt was ranking member of the subcommittee in the last Congress.

The two subcommittees that remained relatively the same as before are the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management (though it now has jurisdiction over peanuts, sugar and tobacco in addition to the other commodities) and Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry.  They will be chaired by Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), respectively.

Of the six new subcommittee chairs, three – Schmidt, Fortenberry, and Conaway — had been ranking members of subcommittees in the last Congress.

Democratic appointments to the Committee and the naming of Subcommittee Ranking Members is expected to be announced within the next couple of weeks.

Categories: Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Competition & Anti-trust, Conservation, Energy & Environment, Farm Bill, Local & Regional Food Systems, Organic, Research, Education & Extension, Rural Development

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