Matt Schertz, Senior Majority Staffer; Bart Fischer, Chief Economist

Matt Schertz and Bart Fischer
National Journal
Jerry Hagstrom
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Jerry Hagstrom
Sept. 18, 2013, 4:30 p.m.

Schertz and Fisc­her work to­geth­er so closely on com­mod­ity policy for the com­mit­tee that they have joked that they should have a joint e-mail ac­count un­der the name “Bert.”

After they took their boss, com­mit­tee Chair­man Frank Lu­cas, R-Okla., out for din­ner last year in Texas, he nick­named them “the bar­be­cue twins.”

This close work­ing re­la­tion­ship, which an­noys lob­by­ists who dis­agree with them on policy, began in 2003 when Schertz was the com­mit­tee’s in­tern co­ordin­at­or and found Fisc­her, one of that sum­mer’s in­terns, to be “bright and bold.” But in real­ity there was already a lot in com­mon in their back­grounds.

Schertz, 39, a seni­or Re­pub­lic­an staffer on the com­mit­tee, grew up on a farm in south Texas. He went to Texas Tech in Lub­bock on a live­stock-judging schol­ar­ship and, tak­ing a clue from his fath­er, a gov­ern­ment-re­la­tions ex­ec­ut­ive for a pub­lic elec­tric util­ity, in­terned sum­mers for both Re­pub­lic­an and Demo­crat­ic state le­gis­lat­ors in Aus­tin.

Schertz star­ted gradu­ate school in 2002 and came to Wash­ing­ton for an in­tern­ship with the House Ag­ri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee chair­man. Ex­cept for a four-year stint in the private sec­tor, he has stayed on the Hill.

Fisc­her, 33, the chief eco­nom­ist on the com­mit­tee, grew up on a farm in south­west­ern Ok­lahoma that has been in the fam­ily for five gen­er­a­tions. He stud­ied ag­ri­cul­tur­al eco­nom­ics at Ok­lahoma State Uni­versity and stayed on for a second bach­el­or’s in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion with a double ma­jor in ac­count­ing and fin­ance.

After his in­tern­ship on the com­mit­tee, Fisc­her went to Cam­bridge Uni­versity in Eng­land, where he got a mas­ter’s de­gree in land eco­nomy. Fisc­her notes that he spent that year study­ing en­vir­on­ment­al policy and try­ing to un­der­stand how people without an ag­ri­cul­ture back­ground ap­proach policy. He also traveled the Con­tin­ent, send­ing Schertz a series of e-mails that began, “Greet­ings from across the pond.”

Fisc­her went to Texas A&M in 2008 to get a Ph.D., and had all but fin­ished when Lu­cas asked him to re­turn to the com­mit­tee in 2010 as chief eco­nom­ist. Fisc­her is on a leave of ab­sence, but said the 1,000-page farm bill will give him plenty of ma­ter­i­al for his dis­ser­ta­tion.

While the two work to­geth­er closely, there are some dif­fer­ences. Schertz, who is single, has lost 35 pounds dur­ing the stress of the drawn-out farm bill, while Fisc­her, who has a wife and child, said he has gone in the oth­er dir­ec­tion.

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