Inside the House Agriculture Committee

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Sept. 19, 2013, 4:38 a.m.

From the food stamps bill on the House floor this week to farm­land con­ser­va­tion and com­mod­it­ies reg­u­la­tion, there is very little about the na­tion’s food sup­ply that the House Com­mit­tee on Ag­ri­cul­ture doesn’t help gov­ern. In its latest Spe­cial Is­sue, Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily ex­am­ines the chan­ging nature of the com­mit­tee, the people who run it and the is­sues and chal­lenges they face. Click here to see the is­sue

Search­ing for the Fu­ture of Food
Serving on the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee may be little fun these days, and even less polit­ic­ally re­ward­ing. The fight to re­new the five-year farm bill — dom­in­ated by how much to cut from the food-stamp pro­gram — has been ac­ri­mo­ni­ous. Mean­while, the heavy in­volve­ment of House lead­er­ship, dif­fer­ences over ag­ri­cul­ture and nu­tri­tion policy, and the de­clin­ing abil­ity of in­di­vidu­al mem­bers to in­flu­ence le­gis­la­tion gen­er­ally have made a seat on the pan­el less at­tract­ive.

Chair­man: ‘The Safety Net Still Has to Ex­ist’
Rep. Frank Lu­cas comes from the tough world of Ok­lahoma farm­ing, but run­ning the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee is no easy job, either. Bo­nus: meet the 16 people closest to the chair­man.

Don’t Un­der­es­tim­ate Col­lin Peterson
Rep. Col­lin Peterson, D-Minn. may be one of the most un­der­es­tim­ated people ever to lead a con­gres­sion­al pan­el. But Peterson has proven to be like the pro­ver­bi­al coun­try law­yer who shocks the city law­yer with his skill.

Fight Over Food Stamps Dom­in­ates Farm Bill
When House law­makers take to the floor this week to ad­dress a bill that will set fund­ing levels for the food-stamp pro­gram, they will be fin­ish­ing a fight that has torn the tra­di­tion­al five-year farm bill in two. Lit­er­ally.

The Two Sides of Crop In­sur­ance
De­pend­ing on whom you talk to, the crop-in­sur­ance pro­gram is either an es­sen­tial risk-man­age­ment tool that helps farm­ers when dis­aster strikes or a Robin Hood-in-re­verse scheme that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.

The Shrink­ing State of Farm­land Con­ser­va­tion
The num­ber of acres the gov­ern­ment idles for con­ser­va­tion is con­tract­ing, and that’s caused as much by mar­ket forces — or “nature,” as one ag­ri­cul­ture ad­voc­ate put it — as it is by any­thing Con­gress has done.

Sug­ar Grow­ers Reap Sweeter Res­ults Than Dairy Farm­ers
Two ma­jor lob­by­ing fights over ag­ri­cul­ture have taken place between grow­ers and users, with vastly dif­fer­ent res­ults.

Con­gress is Pay­ing More At­ten­tion to Fruits and Ve­get­ables
For years, spe­cialty crops — gen­er­ally defined as fruits, ve­get­ables, and tree nuts — have been treated as af­ter­thoughts in ag­ri­cul­ture policy, but with each farm bill comes a little more help.

It’s Corny, But Don’t Call the Ag Com­mit­tee
The re­new­able-fuel stand­ard has a pro­found im­pact on the ag­ri­cul­ture in­dustry. Yet it isn’t con­trolled by the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee.

It’s North Versus South on Com­mod­it­ies De­bate
Dif­fer­ing al­le­gi­ances and philo­sophies among House and Sen­ate Ag Com­mit­tee lead­ers have led to a House com­mod­it­ies sec­tion of the farm bill that ap­peals to South­ern­ers and a Sen­ate ver­sion that is more pal­at­able to North­ern­ers.

Pro­tec­tions, Reg­u­la­tion at Play in CFTC Reau­thor­iz­a­tion
Law­makers’ de­sire to re­spond to the fail­ures of MF Glob­al and Per­eg­rine Fin­an­cial, and linger­ing dis­putes over Dodd-Frank, could be a part of the de­bate.

When Michelle Obama Says ‘Let’s Move’”¦
The first lady has made child­hood nu­tri­tion one of her sig­na­ture policy pri­or­it­ies — and it seems to be work­ing.

For staff pro­files, graph­ics and more, see the full is­sue.

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