The House Agriculture Committee is getting seven new Republican members, who represent some of the most productive farming regions in the country.
Democrats have yet to release their full roster of committee members, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced late Tuesday that Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., would be on the panel again for this Congress. Panetta also serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which handles trade and tax policy.
The committee has new leadership with Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., as chairman and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania as the ranking Republican. New members will be coming into a committee that likely will focus on boosting nutrition programs and prioritizing how farmers can help ameliorate climate change through conservation practices.
Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, represents Iowa’s 4th District, which ranks second nationally in terms of ag production, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The district sprawls across northwestern and north-central Iowa, one of the most fertile regions of the country. According to his website, Feenstra says he'll work on agricultural market price transparency, protecting the Renewable Fuel Standard, expanding broadband access and boosting Iowa’s relationship with top trading partners. A seat on the Ag Committee is a big gain for the northwest Iowa district after former Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was stripped of his seat in January 2019 because of his controversial comments. Feenstra beat King in the Republican primary in June.
Rep. Tracey Mann, R-Kan., serves Kansas' 1st District, which covers about two-thirds of the state, running from the Colorado border to Manhattan, home of Kansas State University. Mann replaces now Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who ran for the Senate seat vacated by the retirement of former Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Mann is a former Kansas lieutenant governor and holds a degree in agricultural economics. In an interview with Agri-Pulse, he listed three top priorities on the committee: protect crop insurance, stop over-regulation of agriculture, and promote “free and fair trade” around the world. “In my view, the distance from farm to fork has never been farther and we have to have people who stand up to an urban Congress and advocate for agriculture,” Mann said. His district ranks third for ag production.
Rep. Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn., unseated then-Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., to represent Minnesota's 7th District, which includes most of western Minnesota. She formerly served as lieutenant governor of Minnesota and prior to that, president of the Minnesota Senate. Fischbach told Agri-Pulse in September her priorities include improving the food supply chain to minimize disruptions from a pandemic, fighting for biofuel producers, and holding China accountable on trade. Her district ranks sixth in U.S. ag production.
Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., replaces retired Republican Rep. John Shimkus in Illinois' 15th District. Along with her husband, Miller manages a farm near Oakland, Ill. Her district produces corn and soybeans and covers most of the southeastern part of the state. She brings a more populist outlook than is traditional for Republicans on the Ag Committee; Miller is a critic of the meatpacking industry and told Agri-Pulse last year she supports breaking up the four largest packers “so we can have true competition." She also supports mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat. The district ranks 19th in ag production.
Rep. Barry Moore, R-Ala., serves Alabama’s 2nd District and replaces the recently retired Martha Roby. Moore is a small-business owner who grew up on a farm in the southeastern part of the state and served in the National Guard for six years. Growing up on a farm drove Moore’s passion to earn a degree in agricultural science from Auburn University in 1992. His district ranks 72nd in ag production.
Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Texas, is a small-business owner and has represented the 27th District of Texas since 2018. It covers part of the Gulf coastline from Corpus Christi to Wharton County near Houston, and Bastrop County near Austin. He'll be the only Texas Republican on the committee. Farmers in his district grow significant amounts of cotton, sorghum and rice, although it ranks just 90th in ag production. Two districts in west Texas that won't have seats on the committee, the 13th represented by first-term Rep. Ronny Johnson and the 19th represented by Jodey Arrington, rank among the top 15 districts in U.S. production. Cloud's priorities include ensuring the federal government doesn’t over-regulate how Texas farmers manage their land.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said her main priority on the committee will be expanding access to high-speed internet in rural areas. She represents the 3rd District, which is in the north-central part of the state. The district ranks just 211th nationally in ag production, but according to her congressional website, it’s known for peanut, livestock, blueberry, dairy, hay, and timber production. It was represented by her former boss, Rep. Ted Yoho, who retired. She was deputy chief of staff for Yoho when she left his office and returned to Florida in 2019. Cammack, 32, is the youngest Republican serving in Congress. She was raised on a cattle farm and her family also operates a commercial sandblasting business.
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