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Capitol Hill New Folks are Coming to Town By Hannah Lipps


ust two years after President Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency on the banner of change, another kind of change is coming to Washington, D.C.


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Republicans pulled off an unprecedent- ed landslide in the House in the No- vember elections and aff ected some change in the Senate, as well.


Agriculture, in particular, will see a lot of change on the House side. The House will welcome 94 new members in Janu- ary. Of the 45 members on the ag com- mitt ee, 16 members were defeated or moved on of their own accord. Many of the new members have never held an elective offi ce. The 16 new Republican committ ee members were announced Dec. 17. It is safe to say the fi rst few months of this 112th Congress will focus largely on new members of the ag com- mitt ee learning how committ ee hear- ings work, which elevators reach which fl oors and how to build an eff ective staff .


Leadership shifts


Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), former rank- ing member, will assume the helm of the ag committ ee while former chair- man Collin Peterson (D-MN) steps to ranking member. Subcommitt ee chair- manships depend on a complex matrix of seniority and interest.


Lucas has made clear that, as chair of agriculture, he will not take up farm bill consideration in 2011, instead push- ing reauthorization of the package most important to farmers to 2012. When the bill expires in August of 2012, Lu- cas wants to conduct more fi eld hear- ings on the farm bill and focus the early


SORGHUM Grower Winter 2011


hours of the 112th Congress on scruti- nizing what is seen as the massive over- reach of administrative agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency.


In the Senate, the only member of the ag committ ee who was defeated was Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). While seniority allowed Sen. Kent Con- rad of North Dakota to have fi rst dibs on the chairmanship, he ceded to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). At printing, the Senate ag ranking member had not been announced.


Education is king


Agriculture’s task in 2011 has been clearly charted. While we don’t know exactly what bills will come to the fl oor, what amendments will be off ered, and what laws will ultimately reach the president’s desk, we know that our job will be focused on education.


After the elections two years ago, NSP evaluated the Sorghum Grower mailing


list. At that time, we mailed our mag- azine to the offi ces of 338 members of Congress who represented rural dis- tricts. There were 56 new rural mem- bers then, and we thought we faced a large hurdle in reaching all of them with sorghum’s message. This issue of Sorghum Grower will reach the offi ces of 81 new rural members of the House.


In March, NSP will lead a group of farmers and industry representatives to Washington, D.C., for its annual D.C. Fly-In. This group will be tasked with visiting as many offi ces as possible, shaking hands with young staff ers, and telling rural members of Congress that sorghum is a water sipping crop grown from coast to coast for food, export, feed and fuel. Congress will be fortu- nate to welcome a few members with strong backgrounds in agriculture. The sorghum industry and other agricul- ture industries alike will be working to quickly educate the rest.


Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma (left) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan are now leading the agriculture committees in the House and Senate.


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