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Midterms Shake Up Ag Committees, Food Policies

The shake ups, particularly in the newly Democrat-majority House of Representatives, are promising to those advocating against work requirements for SNAP recipients.

The midterms are top of mind and media feeds this week. Here’s a snapshot of how the elections affect legislator lineup, and what that could mean for food and agriculture policy in the coming years.

Senate Ag Committee

-Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.), a ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, won her re-election bid. Here’s a look at her ag policies, particularly from the 2014 Farm Bill, which she authored.

-Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a former member of the Senate Ag Committee, lost her re-election bid to Republican Kevin Cramer. Heitkamp also worked on the 2014 Farm Bill, and was regarded by many as a “champion” of North Dakota agriculture.

-Joe Donnelly (D-In.) lost his seat to Republican Mike Braun in ag-heavy state Indiana, in what was a considered a key race for Republican control of the Senate.

House Ag Committee

-Antonio Delgado (D) defeated Rep. Faso (R), member of House Ag Committee, in New York.

-Betsy Londrigan (D) defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Rodney Davis, member of the House Ag Committee, in Illinois.

-The committee's leaders switch places, with Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who won with 52.1 percent of the vote, becoming the committee’s chairman. He previously served in that role from 2007 to 2010. Republican Michael Conaway of Texas, who won with 80.2 percent of the vote, remains as his party’s senior committee member.

Rep. Peterson has already stated that passing the farm bill by year’s end is a top priority, telling reporters on a conference call that “there is nothing that is a big enough deal to keep from getting the bill done.”

The Wall Street Journal points out that Rep. Peterson is from an ag-heavy district in Minnesota, and he is likely to focus on the commodities present there: sugar beets, dairy, and meat.


-California passed Prop 12, which ensures minimum requirements for confining certain farm animals and prohibiting the sale of items from animals in operations that don’t meet those requirements.

-Both Oregon and Washington voters weighed in on anti-grocery tax measures, similar to soda taxes, with very different results. Oregon voters said no to Measure 103, which would have amended the state constitution to prohibit taxes on groceries. Voters in Washington voted in favor of Initiative 1634, prohibiting local and state governments from future grocery taxes. Initiative 1634 will not affect Seattle’s soda tax, which went into effect in January of this year.

The 2018 Farm Bill

A GOP-majority House backed a 2018 Farm Bill with expanded work requirements for SNAP recipients. Now that Democrats have control of the House, welfare reform is expected to be eliminated in the 2018 Farm Bill.

“The food stamp stuff, I told them four months ago this was not going to fly,” said Collin Peterson (D - MN), the new House Ag Committee Chairman.

Read More:

When it comes to food policy, the midterm elections may have consequences (Food Dive)

Turnover Is In Store For House Ag Panel; Will Policy Follow? (Ag Insider)

Peterson Talks Farm Bill, Usmca, Oversight, Pelosi (The Fence Post)

Proposed Soda Tax Bans See Mixed Results With Washington And Oregon Voters (Forbes)

California Votes To Ban Cages For Hens, Give Farm Animals More Room (Huffington Post)

House Elections Stamp Expiration Date On GOP ‘Welfare Reform In The Farm Bill’ (Successful Farming)

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