The dust has settled after another election and the political landscape has changed once again. In what is very fitting for 2020, we have plenty of change at the federal level. On January 20, we will welcome new agriculture leaders in both houses of Congress, a new President and Vice President and with that, a new Secretary of Agriculture.
In 2019, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) announced that the 116th session of Congress would be his last. In his announcement Roberts touted his work on the 2018 Farm Bill, the eighth he’s worked on. Picking up the chairmanship is Senator John Boozman (R-Ark). Boozman, considered a consensus builder, said he would be focusing on the farm bill and promoting bipartisan cooperation. He is also planning to take up child-nutrition legislation once Congress reconvenes for the new session.
In the House, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) lost his reelection bid in what was expected to be a close battle. Peterson was supported by agriculture and conservation groups across the political spectrum and was considered by many as one of the last remaining moderate legislators in Washington. In his place, Rep. David Scott (D-GA) was selected by the Democrat caucus to lead the agriculture committee. Scott will be the first African American Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and first Congressman from Georgia to chair a committee. He is expected to focus on trade, disaster aid, climate change and sustainable agriculture. Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation supported Rep. Scott’s bid for Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
The election on November 3 brought big changes, none bigger than the change in United States President. President-Elect Biden was elected in a close election that will bring changes in leadership at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pres.-Elect Biden nominated Tom Vilsack, CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council for the last four years and served as Pres. Obama’s USDA Secretary for eight years, to once again lead USDA. American Farm Bureau Federation welcomed his selection stating Vilsack “supports all types of production and understands the importance of respecting farmers and ranchers as partners worthy of support in the race to achieve sustainability goals.” The GOP controlled Senate is expected to quickly confirm Vilsack when it returns in January.
Elections are a great time to take stock in the direction of the country. This election will bring new leadership to agriculture, but Farm Bureau’s priorities remain the same. We must maintain the hard-won regulatory reforms of the past few years, continue to expand global markets, improve access to mental health services in rural Wisconsin and buildout our broadband infrastructure. WFBF, along with AFBF, stand ready to work with our new leaders to bring home more wins for farmers and ranchers.
Tyler Wenzlaff serves as WFBF’s director of governmental relations focusing on federal issues.
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