There was much activity this week on the House side. The House Agriculture Committee’s Democratic Caucus organizational meeting was held and Chairman David Scott of Georgia announced the election of the Chairs of the Committee’s six Subcommittees as follows:
- Jim Costa of California will Chair the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture
- Abigail Spanberger of Virginia will Chair the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
- Jahana Hayes of Connecticut will Chair the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations
- Antonio Delgado of New York will Chair the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit
- Cheri Bustos of Illinois will Chair the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
- Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands will Chair the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research
- The House Agriculture Committee’s Republican Leader Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) had announced the subcommittee Ranking Members for the 117th Congress earlier and they are as follows:
- Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.
- Rep. Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit.
- Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.
- Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations.
- Rep. Dr. Jim Baird of Indiana will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research.
- Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
On Wednesday, February 11, 2021, the House Agriculture Committee met to organize and adopt rules for the new Congress. Also on the agenda was the consideration of the Agriculture and Nutrition Title pursuant to the reconciliation instructions provided in the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Resolution, S. Con. Res. 5. The proposal which Chairman Scott had unveiled earlier would cost $16.1 billion, and was quickly criticized by Republican Ranking Member Glenn Thompson for both the policy and the manner in which it was developed with no input from Republicans.
After consideration of amendments, the bill was adopted on a party-line vote. The only amendment adopted in a bi-partisan vote was one offered by Republican Randy Feenstra (R-IA) who authored an amendment that would extend WHIP+ to 2020 crop year and make derechos and high wind losses eligible. Cindy Axne, a Democrat from Iowa, joined Republicans to address the disaster which greatly affected Iowa producers.
The proposal will be part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill which will be assembled by the House Budget Committee. The reconciliation proposal also contains $4.0 billion for food supply chain and agriculture pandemic response, $1 billion for nutrition assistance in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and $1 billion to improve land access, address heirship issues and provide legal assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. $800 million for Food for Peace, $1.15 billion for State’s SNAP administrative costs, and $500 million for emergency grants for rural health care.
A much-discussed provision during Committee consideration was a provision providing a payment equal to 120 percent of the outstanding indebtedness of each socially disadvantaged farmer and rancher on loans made directly by USDA or made by a private lender with a USDA loan guarantee.