The Democrats regained control of the House of Representatives
By Diego Flammini
Last night’s midterm election results could have a significant effect on an important piece of ag legislation.
The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, capturing 222 seats to the Republican party’s 199, CNN reported. In the Senate, the Republicans maintained control, winning 51 seats compared to 45 for the Democrats.
The Farm Bill will become a key item as the 116th Congress moves forward.
The Farm Bill Conference Committee didn’t reach an agreement on a new bill before the 2014 bill expired on Sept. 30. And the government hasn’t announced an extension of the 2014 bill, meaning funding for programs like the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage are in limbo.
And with a shift in the House of Representatives, a change in how the ag legislation progresses could be on the horizon, said Marin Bozic, an ag policy professor from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Applied Economics.
Republican “Collin Peterson from Minnesota’s seventh Congressional District is going to be the new chairman of the House agriculture committee, but he won’t take the position until Jan. 20,” Bozic said to Farms.com. “I think there will be a push (by Republicans) to wrap up the Farm Bill before the end of this year because we know the Democrats are going to regain control of the House.
“Bottom line, I would give it about a fifty-fifty chance between an extension of the 2014 bill and a completely new bill.”
One of the noted Farm Bill challenges between the two parties is work requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Republicans want to include work requirements as part of program eligibility. Democrats oppose that idea.
Now that the midterm elections are in the rearview mirror, farm groups are urging the 115th Congress to act on the Farm Bill before the Democrats take over.
“While the 2018 midterm elections brought change to the political makeup of Congress, this should not impact the priority of passing the 2018 Farm Bill by the end of this session of Congress,” Jimmie Musick, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said in a statement today. “With the Farm Bill having expired, growers are left with much uncertainty and are denied access to several beneficial programs within the bill.”