The much anticipated 2010 Election is now behind us. Thank goodness the negative ads are over and hopefully the government can get to work.
Every election year legislative work stalls as members worry how their votes will impact them in the polls. And this year the Democrats paid the ultimate price of losing control in the House, and lost additional seats in the Senate, for an overwhelming sentiment against the establishment and incumbents.
According to an article in the Daily Yonder, two-thirds of the 60 House seats switching from Democrat to Republican in this election were in the congressional districts with the most rural voters.
Before the election almost half (61) of the 125 most rural districts were held by Democrats. By the end of the day Tuesday, the number of rural Democrats had been cut to just 22. Just 18% of the most rural House districts are now represented by Democrats, according to analysis by Daily Yonder co-editors Bill Bishop and Julie Ardery.
And not one previously controlled Republican districted switched to Democrat.
Source: Daily Yonder
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Steve Foglesong said many proponents of government overreach into the cattle industry were voted out of office. Foglesong, referring to a NCBA campaign launched last week, said four members of Congress called out for not supporting cattlemen and women from a government takeover will not be returning to the 112 Congress.
Specifically, NCBA released advertisements and editorials in regional papers across cattle country to inform voters that Reps. Betsy Markey, D-Colo.; Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill.; Steve Kagen, D-Wis.; and John Boccieri, D-Ohio, did not sign a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to encourage a comprehensive economic analysis of a rule on livestock and poultry marketing that could put small to medium sized producers out of business. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., was also targeted for signing a letter that actually supports the rule. Except for Bennet, whose reelection bid will likely end in a recount, all candidates targeted in the campaign were defeated.
“Over the past two years, our nation’s farmers and ranchers have overcome threats of a cap and trade bill, legislation to ban the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture and a rapidly expanding federal government," Foglesong. "Despite what leadership in the 111th Congress may have believed, cattle producers don’t need big government setting up camp in cattle country. I am hopeful the newly elected members of Congress will restore some much needed balance and commonsense to Congress."
Gary Blumenthal, president of World Perspectives, Inc., pointed out that the 2010 election wave was sparked almost exclusively by the economy, an area where agriculture is fortunately not suffering.
"More than half of the majority members of the House Agriculture Committee lost their seats meaning 15 of the 26 Democratic Committee members will not return for the 112th Congress, and more importantly, the next farm bill. By contrast, 16 of the 17 Republican members of the Committee will be back.
"It is likely that a few seats will be added to the new Republican majority on the Agriculture Committee, and the Democratic side will also need to add some new members but they may have a shortage of 'true' farm district members in the Democratic caucus. Thus they may add urban members with a focus on environment, nutrition and food assistance, which could have a significant impact on the farm bill debate," Blumenthal said.
And with that great of a switchover on the agricultural committee, you can expect there will need to be a great deal of educating those new members, especially those who represent more urban districts.
Note that Representative John Boehner, R-Ohio, is likely to become Speaker of the House. He is a former vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and would be the first Speaker since Representative Tom Foley, D-Wash., who served as Speaker from 1989-95, to have been a former Agriculture Committee member.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas lost her race. The new chairman of the Agriculture Committee is likely to be Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a moderate Democrat, may also have a chance of taking over the helm.
This committee is top heavy with former chairmen (Senators Harkin, Leahy, Lugar, and Cochran), one former House Agriculture Committee Chairman (Roberts), and one former USDA Secretary (Johanns). Given the budget situation and how difficult it will be to write a new Farm Bill, all the experience will come in handy.
Policy is one of the most important issues facing farmers today, but often the most difficult to digest. Jacqui Fatka has a passion to decode the often difficult world of agricultural policy into terms understandable for today's ag players.
Fatka joined the Farm Progress team as E-Content Editor in August 2003 after graduating from Iowa State University. Prior to full-time employment with Farm Progress, she interned at Wallaces Farmer magazine, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley's press office and the Iowa Pork Producers Association and freelanced for National Hog Farmer. She also worked as a public relations consultant with Iowa Industries for the Future, an effort to bring together major players in the biorenewables industry.
Currently Fatka is a staff editor at a sister publication, Feedstuffs. For Farm Futures she regularly tells the story of ongoing agricultural policy changes. Her byline can also be found on management profiles.
Fatka grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Atlantic, Iowa. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband Eric, and their three children - Josiah, Spencer and Avonell.
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