Ag Issues Take Back Seat to Urban-focused Issues

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Agriculture lost several of its friends in this week's election fallout. Although some of the future leaders have been agricultural allies in the past, priorities will change in the beltway. With Democrats gaining increasing control in Congress, ag issues will likely take a back seat to more urban-focused issues. And as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association explained, many Democrats who won seats this week are strongly supported by anti-agriculture activist groups and environmentalists, and these groups will use that leverage to push their agendas.

Thursday, November 8 the NCBA staff brought together industry stakeholders and fellow ag organizations to discuss varying perspectives on what the new Congress will mean for agriculture.

Here's the likely shake-up of new committee assignments. It looks like Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., will be the next Speaker of the House. Chair of the House Agriculture Committee is likely to go to Collin Peterson, D-Minn., with Nick Rahall, D-W.V., likely becoming Chairman of the Resources Committee, and John Dingell, D-Mich., likely to be Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Thursday's concession by Republican George Allen of Virginia also gives the Democrats control of the Senate 49-49 with 2 independents who say they will caucus with the Democrats. It is expected that Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, will return as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, but Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., will still have a good deal of power, especially as we look to the 2007 Farm Bill.  

Republicans fought mandatory country-of-origin labeling and mandatory animal identification. Democrats may use their new-found power to reverse those trends. Permanent repeal of the death tax was already beginning to fade coming into this election cycle, but is definitely dead in the water now. 2007 Farm Bill discussions are likely to include bans on packer ownership and forward contracting.

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