Big changes are in store for agriculture in Congress after Tuesday’s sweeping GOP wins that put the party in control of the Senate starting next year. There will be a new chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and American Farm Bureau’s Dale Moore says it’s likely a senator thought to be at risk of losing his race at one point in Kansas.
“Most everyone talks about Senator Pat Roberts, having won his reelection effort, is the most likely candidate. If he is the new chairman of the ag committee on the Senate side, it would be him unique in the sense that he’s also chaired House Agriculture Committee.”
There will also be a change at the top of the House Agriculture Committee even with that body remaining under Republican control.
“Republicans put term limits in terms of the number of years that individuals can serve as chairman of the committee, so Chairman Frank Lucas is stepping down after this Congress. I’m sure he’s going to remain on the committee, and the most often mentioned new chairman is Representative Mike Conaway from Texas.”
Moore sees limited agriculture legislative action in the post-election lame duck session, which must at least extend expiring stop-gap funding of the government.
“We are hopeful that we’ll see something on the tax extenders, hopefully for us it’s the Section 179 and the bonus depreciation, the two that are right at the top of our list, but it’s that whole package of tax extenders. I think it would surprise me if we saw the lame duck address issues of Waters of the U.S. We’ve also heard rumors, but I kind of discount that the lame duck is going to take time to work on any of the trade issues. I think those are all issues that are going to be on the table come the new Congress.”
Immigration reform should be on the table too, and AFBF has pushed for that to boost the seasonal labor force. But that could still be a problem if the president upsets conservatives with unilateral action on illegal immigrants. Other big issues for the American Farm Bureau include budget and spending bills, continued farm bill implementation and state attempts to label GMO foods.
Source: NAFB News Service