The USDA needs to step in to help sheep ranchers in the West following the bankruptcy of the second-largest U.S. sheep processor, said leaders of the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.
Republican Reps. Troy Balderson of Ohio and Chris Jacobs of New York are newly appointed members of the House Agriculture Committee, announced Rep. Michael Conaway, the GOP leader on the panel, on Thursday.
With an early endorsement from President Trump, former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach is the GOP favorite to run against House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson in western Minnesota. But other candidates were loath to clear the way for her at a nominating convention in May and in the upcoming Aug. 11 primary election.
Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a conservative Democrat in a Republican-leaning district, announced he would seek re-election in November, saying he was worried rural America is being left behind. President Trump has endorsed a Republican challenger against Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, in a contest that is regarded as a toss-up.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the odds of a multibillion-dollar round of trade war payments to farmers this year are “less than 10 percent,” although a senior lawmaker said the payments may be "absolutely vital" for survival in the Farm Belt. China will turn to the U.S. market for soybeans “late this spring, this summer,” Perdue predicted during a House Agriculture hearing on Wednesday.
Sabato's Crystal Ball says the path to re-election is a bit easier for four members of the House Agriculture Committee — Democrats Antonio Delgado of New York State, Josh Harder of California and Kim Schrier of Washington State, and Republican Mike Bost of Illinois — and a bit rockier for Republican Jim Hagedorn of California. The political handicapping newsletter said Democrats are favored to retain control of the House in the Nov. 3 general elections but a highly nationalized election could give Republicans a chance.
Despite lower rental rates, enrollment in the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program is "competitive" this year, a USDA official said at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The 2018 farm bill raised the cap on the number of acres to be enrolled in the CRP from 24 million to 27 million, and Congress reduced the rates paid to farmers to fund the expansion.
New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who changed parties to become a Republican after voting against the impeachment of President Trump, is the second lawmaker to lose his seat on the House Agriculture Committee in a year. The other was anti-immigrant Republican Steve King of Iowa.
House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota and committee member Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey voted against the impeachment of President Trump on Wednesday.
On the same day that President Trump praised soon-to-be Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a straw poll of farmers gave Trump an approval rating of 82 percent, his highest tally yet.