The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

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Peterson to face challenges in committee recruitment

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will need to find replacements for at least four and possibly five key allies on the House Agriculture Committee when Congress returns in January, and will probably have to add more members from urban districts and from areas outside the Plains and southern states, where commodity agriculture is dominant in the economy.

Peterson already had a vacancy on the committee because Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., has resigned. Rep. Tim Holden, D-Pa., was defeated in his primary, and Reps. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, Larry Kissell, D-N.C. and Joe Baca, D-Calif., lost to Republicans in the election.

Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., has claimed victory in his race, but the margin is so small that the final outcome is uncertain.

These members have been reliable votes for traditional farm programs, but Peterson will have fewer Democrats from traditional commodity-growing and meat-producing areas as candidates to replace them.

Democrats from the Northeast and urban areas who joined the committee after the defeats of rural Democrats in the 2010 election have often been more interested in anti-hunger programs and in farm programs that benefit fruits and vegetables and organic and local agriculture.

The Democrats appear to have picked up at least seven seats in the House on Election Day, but whether that means Democrats will gain more seats on committees has not yet been determined.