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.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."