The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Election over, ag speculation shifts


The voters returned President Barack Obama to office and left the Senate in Democratic control and the House in Republican, but under the surface there are a number of changes that will be important to rural America.

Voters in California rejected Proposition 37, which would have required labeling food products containing genetically modified ingredients. At the same time, in what could be considered a key development for a certain type of farmer, voters in Colorado and Washington state approved initiatives to legalize use of marijuana.

Meanwhile, speculation has shifted to the prospects for passing the farm bill in the lame duck session and who might serve in Obama’s Cabinet in the second term.

The National Farmers Union was the first farm group today to issue a statement congratulating Obama and to call for completion of the farm bill before Congress leaves at the end of December.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has scheduled a news conference late this afternoon. The official topic is the fiscal cliff, but he is likely to be asked about how he plans to handle the farm bill.

While Obama won the election, an exit poll on CNN late Tuesday evening showed that 59 percent of rural voters gave their votes to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. That was exactly the same percentage that an independent poll published in The Daily Yonder in mid October predicted Romney would get.

Current members of the Cabinet have not said whether they will serve in a second term, but the National Journal already reported that if Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were to leave, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., might be a candidate to succeed him.

NJ said Conrad also could be a candidate to direct the Office of Management and Budget, and that if Energy Secretary Stephen Chu leaves, former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., might be a candidate for that post.

If Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson leaves, the speculation is that Bob Perciasepe, the agency’s deputy administrator and chief operating officer, might move up. Other candidates are Heather Zichal, the White House’s top aide on energy and climate, and Bradley Campbell, a former New Jersey commissioner of environmental protection.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to remain in his position

Election result details are available at the website of the National Journal, which has removed its password requirement for election coverage.