Little change to farm policy, even as Peterson loses ag chair

Published 9:38 am Monday, November 8, 2010

By Mark Steil, Minnesota Public Radio

Now that Republicans control a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, is out as chair of the House Agriculture Committee. Taking his place at the helm will be U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma.

But observers doubt the new face means significant change for federal farm policy, which history shows is almost immune to major new direction, no matter which party is in power.

The Republican sweep on Tuesday was historic, the largest gain in House seats in more than 60 years. The impact can be seen directly on the Agriculture Committee, as 16 of 28 Democrats on the committee lost their re-election bids.

University of Minnesota Applied Economics Professor Kent Olson said the Republicans replacing them will be looking to make changes.

“Many of them will have this drive to cut spending,” he said.

However, agricultural programs traditionally have escaped big budget cuts, Olson said.

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