Washington, DC — Bucking historical trends that sweep in candidates from the opposing party of the president during the midterm elections, Republicans look to have made only marginal gains in last night’s contests. Because of this result, Farm Action Fund sees room for bipartisanship on reforms to agriculture policy that will create more opportunity for independent farmers and ranchers, build up local food systems, and enhance competition.
The House of Representatives looks likely to change hands as more races are called. Under Democrats’ control, the House Agriculture Committee in recent years has been more open to taking on Big Ag’s interests than in prior administrations of both parties. At this time, only one of the 12 vulnerable Democrats has lost, and three more seats are likely to flip. While Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Angie Craig (D-MN-07) emerged victorious after tight races, several members with significant farm bill experience will be leaving the committee due to retirement or defeat in their elections.
Despite this likely transfer of control over the committee, Farm Action Fund anticipates there will be enough stability to accomplish essential reforms. The farm bill has historically required bipartisan support to pass, and 2023 looks to be no exception.
“We applaud Representative Marcy Kaptur’s support for local food systems, and are pleased to see her success in last night’s election,” said Angela Huffman, Ohio-based vice president of Farm Action Fund. “We look forward to working with her to produce a Fair Farm Bill, one that shifts government support to the production of healthy and affordable food for Americans.”
Control of the Senate Agriculture Committee likewise hangs in the balance. While Democrats remain slight favorites to maintain their 50-50 control over the chamber, Republicans have a chance to take the majority in the Senate.
“We see a lot of possibilities on the horizon to pass great legislation that empowers farmers and ranchers against the entrenched interests of corporate monopolies,” said Joe Maxwell, Farm Action Fund’s president.
“Senators Chuck Grassley and Jon Tester share our deep concern for independent livestock producers, and we endorsed their bipartisan Meat Packing Special Investigator Act.
“Senators Cory Booker and Mike Lee have led efforts to reform our corrupt commodity checkoff system, which forces farmers and ranchers to pay trade and lobbying organizations that work against their very existence.
“It seems less likely under a Republican-controlled House or Senate that any climate-smart policies, or policies centering equity for historically disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and consumers, will survive. These are major Farm Action Fund priorities, so we’ll keep pushing no matter what.
“Still, we’re encouraged to see significant bipartisan interest in ramping up antitrust activity across multiple industries. Americans across the political spectrum have identified monopoly power and consolidation as a real threat to our economy.”