Midterms Shake Up Senate Agriculture Committee

The wave election that switched control of the US House of Representatives from Democratic to Republican control is having a major impact on agricultural committees in the US Senate as well. Blanche Lincoln, the current chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was one of the incumbents defeated on November 2. The vacancy on the Agriculture Committee has signaled a shakeup in Democratic committee chairs in the Senate, with North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad considering stepping down as chair of the Senate Budget Committee to take a larger role on the Agriculture panel.

“I represent the state of North Dakota and I’m talking to constituents and talking to colleagues about where do people think it would be most valuable for me to be,” Conrad said. “Those conversations are continuing… It’s hugely important to my state, as you can imagine”

Conrad’s decision seems partially determined by North Dakota’s economic situation. While agriculture currently accounts for 10% of the state’s employment, it is a major part of the state economy and ranks 24th in the nation in terms value of agricultural products.  Conrad’s upcoming 2012 reelection most likely played a role in his considered committee swap as well as the potential debates over the upcoming farm bill.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer