Voters Decide to Divide Power in DC

Mark Rokala, Policy Director

Voters gave the Democratic Party keys to the House of Representatives on election night. On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Republicans grew their majority.

The House of Representatives is the body of Congress with the investigative responsibilities allowing Democrats the opportunity to investigate President Trump and his federal agencies. This month’s election resulted in 100 new members of Congress. That is a turnover of one in every four members. Most of those newly elected officials come from urban and suburban areas with very few organic farmers. Educating those new members of Congress will be a top priority for the Organic Farmers Association in 2019.

The change in power has significant impact on the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Agriculture and the farm bill conference work. Congressman Colin Peterson (D-MN) will become the new Chair of the House Agriculture Committee. While current Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) will become the new Ranking Member. Senate farm bill negotiators, Senator Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI), will continue in their roles on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and as farm bill negotiators.

Congressman Peterson has said repeatedly that he wants to finish conference committee work in 2018. Since 2019 will be a new Congress, the process of writing a farm bill would start over.

A quick review of the elector map shows that most of those newly elected members come mostly from suburban areas.

We will have a huge job getting those members up to speed on issues important to organic farmer policy. Organic Farmers Association will be reaching out to new members once the first session of the 116th Congress is sworn in after the first of the year.  We start the task by reaching out to new members of the Agriculture Committee.