Ag Policy Blog

Peterson Elected House Ag Chairman

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson takes over as House Agriculture Committee chairman, his second stint at the chairmanship. (DTN photo by Chris Clayton)

House Democrats on Friday elected Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, a position Peterson held from 2007 to 2011 when his party last was in the majority in the House.

Since 2011 Peterson has been the committee’s ranking member. Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, who served as chairman from 2015 through 2019, is now the ranking member.

“I am honored to receive the support of my colleagues to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the 116th Congress,” Peterson said in a statement.

“I look forward to continuing the important work of the committee to address the many challenges facing our producers, our rural communities, and our working families across the country.

“There is no shortage of work to be done. There is a new farm bill to implement, a growing economic storm in farm country to address, and the ongoing harm of a trade war to alleviate, not to mention the range of unforeseen issues that will test the mettle of the people we’re here to serve.

“Our job will be to work together with Republicans to provide responsible oversight of the administration, and pragmatic solutions for all points in the farm and food supply chain. I look forward to the challenge and I’m excited to get to work.”

Meanwhile, longtime visitors to Room 1300 of the Longworth House Office Building, the committee’s meeting room, are asking how the portraits of the former chairmen will be rotated.

By tradition, the last chairman of the current majority party is hung in the center of the front of the hearing room above the chair of the current chairman.

Since Peterson was the last Democratic chairman, following tradition would mean hanging his portrait above where Peterson will sit. That location is currently occupied by the portrait of Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., the last Republican chairman before Conaway took the post.

Also by tradition, the portrait of the last chairman of the minority party hangs at the back of the room above the fireplace. Peterson’s portrait is there now, and presumably will be replaced by Conaway’s when that portrait if finished. In the meantime, it seems likely that Lucas’s portrait will hang there.

On the side wall in Room 1300 and on the walls of Room 1302, a smaller House Agriculture Committee hearing room, there are portraits of previous committee chairman going back decades. If a portrait moves from 1300 to 1302, will one of those portraits go into storage?

Simmons named House Ag majority staff director

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has named Anne Simmons as majority staff director of the committee.

Former House Agriculture Committee employees and friends of Simmons gathered in the House Agriculture Committee meeting room on Friday afternoon to celebrate her appointment and her birthday.

Simmons has been minority staff director since November 2016 when she succeeded Rob Larew, who left to work for the National Farmers Union.

Before that Simmons served as the committee Democrats’ senior policy adviser. She has been on the House Agriculture Committee staff since 1993, serving under then-ranking member Charlie Stenholm, D-Texas, and then-Chairman Kika de la Garza, D-Texas.

Before joining the committee, Simmons worked for then-Rep. Tim Johnson. D-S.D.

She was raised on a corn, soybean and livestock farm near Spencer, Iowa, and graduated from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Simmons is the third woman to hold the position. Nicole Scott served as staff director for Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., when he was chairman and Dianne Powell served in the position when de La Garza was chairman.

Shutdown Could Mean SNAP Cuts

If the government shutdown drags on long enough, the Agriculture Department will run out of funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), The Washington Post reported over the weekend. Tax refunds will already likely be delayed.…

Post lists number of USDA employees affected by shutdown by state

In an article about the impact of the partial government shutdown outside the Washington area, The Washington Post has listed the number of Agriculture Department employees affected in each state.

The top 10 places where agency workers affected by the shutdown are most concentrated are Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, Idaho, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, the Post said.

The Post reports California has 9,000 USDA employees while Oregon has 5,000, and Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona New Hampshire, Washington state, Georgia and Utah have between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA employees.…


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