Ag Policy Blog

Scott, Thompson to lead House Agriculture Committee in Next Congress

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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The House Democratic Caucus on Thursday approved Rep. David Scott, R-Ga., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., was elected by Republicans to serve as ranking member on the committee. (Official congressional portraits)

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

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12/4/2020 | 10:21 AM CST
Being a family farmer here in Hawaii while being on the state board of agriculture and president of Hawaii Farmers Union which has 13 chapters across the islands I find myself in leadership focused on a critical path of regenerating the vitality of our soils as a model for other farmers who value this path to emulate. With the new chair of the house agricultural committee speaking of climate change and sustainable agriculture, my next thought is that he then understands it all starts with our soils vitality and resiliency to consistent production whether its growing a crop for food or growing a crop for to build the microbial biomass of roots under the ground. The main thing is that humic development occurs on a consistent basis within the rhizosphere so that a network of soil life can support a healthy food crop being grown. When I hear that as being a focus of a chair then I will know he understands. For now I extend my congratulations and will give him the benefit of any doubt.