The House Democratic Caucus on Thursday approved the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee's recommendation of Rep. David Scott, R-Ga., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Scott succeeds House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who lost his bid for re-election.
Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., was elected by Republicans to serve as ranking member on the committee.
In a statement, Scott said he is honored to be chosen as the first African American to lead the committee.
“I was born on my grandparents' farm in rural Aynor, South Carolina, during the days of segregation, and the hardships, of those, on whose shoulders I now stand," Scott said. "I owe this historic selection as the first African American Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee to a diverse coalition of members from across our nation. And I will use this critical opportunity to represent the values of our entire caucus and advance our priorities for trade, disaster aid, climate change, sustainable agriculture, SNAP, crop insurance, small family farms, specialty crops, and rural broadband. The fault lines dividing our rural and urban communities are running deep, and climate change is now threatening our nation's food supply. As Chairman, I will lead the fight to rise up and meet these challenges.”
Scott and Thompson received several statements of congratulations from agricultural groups. Rob Larew, president of National Farmers Union, said he looked forward to working with both lawmakers on stronger food and farm policy.
“Not only do Representatives Scott and Thompson have strong backgrounds in agricultural policy, but they both understand the importance of bringing together a broad coalition to support the food system, which will prove exceptionally useful in the months ahead. National Farmers Union congratulates the Representatives on their well-earned leadership positions; we look forward to working with them to develop policies that support family farmers, ensure food security, and bolster rural communities.”
Outgoing House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., congratulated the two lawmakers as well.
“Congratulations to David Scott on his election as the next Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and as the first African-American to serve in that role," said Peterson. “He will make a great Chairman, and I'm proud to pass the reins to him."
"As a long-time House Ag member and leader, David knows very well the impact the Committee's work has on the lives of farmers, ranchers, rural residents, and consumers in communities across the country. I'm confident we're all in good and capable hands.
“I also want to congratulate Congressman GT Thompson on his election as the House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member. I have had the pleasure of working with GT on dairy and conservation issues, and I know he and David Scott will make a great team to lead the Committee in the 117th Congress."
Outgoing House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, also issued statements congratulating Scott and Thompson.
“David has a long history of serving this nation, both in the Georgia State Legislature and in Congress. He has proven himself to be a champion for rural America. I wish him the best of luck as he takes on this important new role.”
Conaway added, "GT has served as my deputy on the House Agriculture Committee for the past six years. He was instrumental in crafting the 2018 Farm Bill, and I know he'll continue to bring his strong work ethic and steadfast commitment to America's farmers and ranchers to this new role.”
DTN Political Correspondent Jerry Hagstrom contributed to this report.
Column Proposes Changing USDA's Name
A column in the New York Times by Ricardo Salvador from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Mark Bittman, an author and former NYT columnist, calls for changing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the "Department of Food and Well Being." The column argues that the perception of USDA is that it is only focused on agriculture when two-thirds of USDA's budget goes to nutrition and food security while also investing heavily in rural infrastructure, housing and health care. Yet USDA is "bound to the past" by focusing its attention more on a small number of commercial farmers.
"Expanding the department's vision of the food system beyond the interests of agribusiness would allow the USDA to promote health and well-being for all. For President-elect Biden to “build back better,” he will need a secretary of agriculture who cares not only about how food and industrial products are produced, but also for whom, and to what general public good."
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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