First-term Rep. Spanberger to chair House Ag subcommittee

Democrat Abigail Spanberger, who defeated Freedom Caucus stalwart Rep. Dave Brat in a central Virginia upset last November, will be the only first-term lawmaker to chair a House Agriculture subcommittee this session, announced committee chairman Collin Peterson on Thursday.

An Aggie tries to move up in House Democratic leadership

As House Democrats revel in electoral success, Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos says she knows, from first-hand experience prevailing in a Trump district, how the party can protect its newly won majority in the 2020 elections. Bustos, the only Midwesterner in party leadership, is one of four candidates for election on Wednesday to chair the Democratic campaign committee, a job that can launch a leadership career if Democrats win on election day.

Trump acolyte presses ahead in Mississippi Senate race

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a member of President Trump’s agriculture advisory committee in 2016, is following the president’s no-apology campaign style in the Senate runoff election against former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat. Hyde-Smith is the front-runner in strongly Republican Mississippi.

USDA will wait for Congress to decide SNAP work rules

Congress should have the first, and last, word on stricter work requirements for able-bodied SNAP recipients, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. The USDA is working on the issue as a regulatory matter, but Perdue told reporters that he would not intrude on legislative prerogatives.

Farm bill outlook: Lame duck passage or bust

Farm bill negotiators said they expect to pass the $87-billion-a-year legislation in the lame duck session of Congress that opens on Tuesday. “I think we are relatively close,” said Collin Peterson, ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee. “We could have that language ready next week when we come back.”

House elections stamp expiration date on GOP ‘welfare reform in the farm bill’

The midterm elections on Tuesday, giving Democrats control of the House beginning in January, effectively ended a Republican push for stricter SNAP work requirements in the 2018 farm bill. The elections could also be the jolt that breaks the stalemate in Senate-House negotiations over the bill. (No paywall)

Trump remains on top in farm country

In the end, election night turned into a gentle blue wave, showing the nation as divided as ever. As expected, suburban voters pushed back against President Trump, giving control of the House back to the Democrats, while voters in rural areas doubled down on their support of the president, flipping the Senate seats in three ag-heavy states to the Republicans. (No paywall)

In northwestern Iowa, King’s cruise to re-election hits a pothole

Anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King has suddenly found himself fighting his toughest re-election contest in years in the reliably conservative northwestern quadrant of Iowa, with an online poll showing his Democratic challenger trailing him by just a single point. (No paywall)

Trump: ‘We don’t have enough votes’ for stricter SNAP rules

Banking on Republican gains in the midterm elections, President Trump said Congress could wait until next year to pass the farm bill because "we don't have enough votes" now for stricter work requirements for millions of SNAP recipients. Trump, who signed an executive order in April calling for new and stronger work requirements for social programs, has sided with House Republicans on the major dispute of the 2018 farm bill, now nearly a month overdue.

Will a Blue Wave hit farm country? These races will tell the tale.

From the dairy farms of Pennsylvania and New York to the commodity growers in the Midwest and the produce fields of California’s Central Valley, the farm-country vote is very much in play as the midterms approach. In two new stories, FERN takes a closer look at a handful of contests that will determine whether Democratic challengers can flip the farmers who helped elect Donald Trump. (No paywall)