The re-election defeat of U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson in Minnesota and some key retirements mean a shakeup is coming for the industry on Capitol Hill, with power likely to shift from the Midwest to the South and the coasts.
Both the House and Senate agriculture committees will get new chairs, and there will be a new top Republican on the House panel. Observers say the most likely replacements are expected to prioritize Southern crops such as peanuts, rice and cotton over traditional Midwest concerns of corn, soybeans, sugar beets and dairy. That could mean a new emphasis on nutrition programs that serve the poor.
Peterson, a Democrat who lost his bid for a 16th term, was a major force in shaping several farm bills and a strong advocate for Midwestern agriculture in a House where the ranks of rural Democrats have been shrinking. He was known for working across the aisle, and he had Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ear.