With U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) re-elected chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, respectively, legislation for farm programs, conservation, nutrition, and trade development and rural programs, is expected to track its current course for the remainder of the 112th Congress, unless Congress either sends the president a five-year farm bill or some type of extension of the 2008 farm statute. In the 113th Congress, however, the outlook for the committees' farm and food policies likely will depend more heavily on the development of federal budget policy.
Changes will occur next year in each agriculture committee's membership, including some new subcommittee leaders. One veteran agriculture reporter commented that there could be at least three Republican openings on the House Agriculture Committee and at least five for Democrats. On the Senate side, Chairman Stabenow could have at least two open Democratic seats and there will be one open Republican seat on the committee.
A major change with farm-bill implications could occur amongst the Senate Agriculture Committee's Republican membership if Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) were to depart the Appropriations Committee, where he is term-limited as the Ranking Republican, and would choose to assume the same role on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) currently serves as Ranking Republican on the Agriculture Committee.
National election returns to date have Republicans and Democrats keeping control of the U.S. House and Senate, respectively, but voters' choices nationwide resulted in each party's controlling majorities being amended. According to Politico's online data, Republicans in the House reportedly have won 233 seats, Democrats hold 193, and nine House races still are incomplete. In the Senate, Politico reports that Democrats will have 53 members in the next Congress (a net gain of two), Republicans will seat 45 members (a net loss of two), and there will be two Independents.