New England is gaining representation in the House Agriculture Committee this congressional session as New Hampshire’s Ann Kuster joins Massachusetts’s Jim McGovern and Connecticut’s Joe Courtney as New England’s only representatives on the 46 member House Ag Committee.
One of the issues that helped derail last year’s farm bill debate, in addition to hyper-partisan politics that have become endemic in Washington, was ongoing regional divides. Southern representatives, for example, were upset at the elimination of direct payment subsides and say significant portions of the Senate farm bill unfairly benefit Midwestern corn farmers.
While much of the nation attention on agricultural issues has centered on the Midwestern Corn Belt, and to a lesser extent some Southern states and California, New England has a small, but thriving, agricultural sector.
Their lack of representation on the House Ag Committee has been a major hindrance to many New England farmers’ interests. Elements of the farm bill that would help these farmers, such as increased aid to organic farmers, funding for fresh fruit and vegetable growers, and aid to beginning farmers, were stripped from the extension passed earlier this month.
New Hampshire farmers are hoping that Kuster’s appointment will be a boon to their $1 billion agricultural industry and that she can help protect farm jobs while advocating for New England in future farm legislation.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer