House Democrats elected Georgia Rep. David Scott as their leader on the Agriculture Committee on Thursday for the congressional session that begins on Jan. 3. The vote means the “four corners” of the 2023 farm bill will be the same four lawmakers who led the House and Senate ag committees for the past two years.
Flash points for the new farm bill will likely include SNAP spending, climate change, and farm subsidies. Funding is expected to be tight, although the climate, health, and tax bill passed in August set aside $20 billion for USDA stewardship programs, with a priority for practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency.
“Strong leadership in both committees will be more important than ever as lawmakers draft the 2023 farm bill and work to address the many other issues facing rural America,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in congratulating the committee leaders.
Scott and Pennsylvania Rep. Glenn Thompson will swap roles in January, when Republicans will hold a majority in the House. Thompson will become Agriculture chair, and Scott, the first Black to lead the committee, will become the ranking member. Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow will continue as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, with Arkansas Sen. John Boozman as the senior Republican.
“This committee will have so many important issues to tackle in the coming months, and as ranking member, my level of advocacy for Democratic priorities will be no different,” said Scott, who called hearings on such issues as climate change, rural internet service, and concentration in the meatpacking industry. “I believe we have accomplished important groundwork leading into the 2023 farm bill, and I am looking forward to working across the aisle to ensure that we are doing our best to meet the needs of producers and consumers in this important legislation,” he said.
Stabenow said this week that she was committed to “protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as we begin work on the 2023 farm bill.”
“The need for a reliable farm safety net is paramount,” said Thompson earlier this month. He also has described the federal crop insurance program as “very important,” adding, “We need to protect that. You know, maybe we need to see about strengthening it.” He has questioned the scale of food stamp spending and criticized the USDA as “a lone wolf” in pursuing climate-smart commodities.