With the election over, it is now clear there will be a modest number of changes to the congressional committees that deal directly with agricultural issues. What the agriculture committees look like for the next session of Congress looms large if the new farm bill is postponed until 2013 rather than being finished up in the lame-duck session that starts next week. If the new five-year farm bill is finalized in the lame-duck session, new members may be somewhat less inclined to join the agriculture committees.

Similarly, the agricultural appropriations bill for the current fiscal year could possibly be wrapped up during the lame-duck session, but is more likely to be held over until next year, in which case appropriators (including any new members) will be doing double duty in 2013, working to finish the FY2013 bill and then tackling the FY2014 bill.

House Agriculture Committee
Even before election day, two Republicans and three Democrats were on their way out for the next Congress – Rural Development & Research Subcommittee Chair Tim Johnson (R-IL-15) and Nutrition and Horticulture Subcommittee Chair Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2), plus Conservation Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA-17) and Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee Ranking Member Dennis Cardoza (D-CA-18).

Four members of the House Agriculture Committee were defeated on election day – Commodity and Crop Insurance Subcommittee ranking member Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3), Nutrition and Horticulture Subcommittee Ranking Member Joe Baca (D-CA-35), Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) and Larry Kissell (D-NC-8) are now on their way out at the end of the year.

Assuming the number of total Agriculture Committee seats stays the same, that the allocation of seats between the two parties stays the same, and that no one leaves the committee for other assignments, there will be three Republican openings and at least five Democratic openings. More importantly, assuming the subcommittees remain the same and do not get consolidated or changed, there will be two subcommittee chair positions and four subcommittee ranking member positions up for grabs. At the full committee level, both Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN-7) are expected to remain in those positions.

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