How Did Agriculture Politicos Fare in the Midterms?

Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress last night. And a handful of races focused on specific agriculture issues and legislation or have implications on future food and farm policy decisions. Civil Eats updates you on what’s at play with the major politicos who will impact agriculture after the midterms.

Iowa Republican Joni Ernst Defeats Democrat Bruce Braley to Replace Tom Harkin

This race is seismic for agriculture lobby influence. Iowa is corn country and they don’t let candidates forget it. John McCain wounded his presidential campaign by not bowing down to the corn ethanol throne. So when Ernst initially wavered on support for federally mandated biofuel support, it looked like a mortal blow.

But once Ernst figured out rural “conservatives” can suspend disbelief for federal government ethanol mandates and farm subsidies without penalty from voters, she had the edge on Braley–despite his gold-plated Iowa Corn growers Association endorsement.

Enrst will be a reliable conservative in the culture wars and now a reliable conservative hypocrite on farm welfare. However, she does hew to Chuck Grassley’s payment limit ideas, so that’s something.

Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts Hangs on by his Fingernails

A DC address coupled with a lazy campaign nearly cost him. Roberts jettisoned decades of agriculture policy accomplishments for Kansas farmers, to focus solely on attacking President Obama. Now with Thad Chochran looking elsewhere, Roberts could be the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. And that’s terrible news for advocates of small and organic farms.

Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson Hangs on by his Fingernails

It’s hard to find a more reliable and knowledgeable commodity agriculture advocate in Congress. Dude got Pelosi to eat a pork chop on a stick and kill the best chance in recent memory for a reform minded farm bill. And he still struggled.

Say this about Peterson, he ran the race Pat Roberts should have, and focused on what he’s delivered ag-wise to his constituents. And in his district, it worked.

Though nothing lays bare the contradiction Democrats face with voters when doing the Ag Lobby’s bidding like Peterson and Roberts’ races.

Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell is a Machine

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You can vote against the farm bill and skip tons of agriculture committee meetings and still be Senate Majority leader.

FPA Scores a Win With Florida Republican Congressman Steve Southerland’s Loss

Chef Tom Colicchio and company aim to make food a political issue. And now they have their first pelt for the Food Policy Action (FPA) wall in food stamp gutting Southerland’s fall.

Clean Water and Climate Change Big Losers

Brad Plumer at Vox has the details on how the election makes climate change politics even worse. And North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven has made clear a Republican Senate spells doom for EPA proposed clean water rules despite major American cities facing threats to their drinking water from agriculture pollution.

Tom Cotton Defeats Mark Pryor

What happened to Arkansas agriculture’s pull? First, voters in the state tossed out farm subsidy maven Blanche Lincoln. Now pants on fire Cotton will likely join the split food stamps from subsidy team, which will spell doom for future farm bills.

But like Ernst, Cotton will have industrial agriculture’s back when it comes to their pollution and the EPA.

 

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Don Carr is a former Senior Adviser for the Environmental Working Group and Senior Communications Manager for the Environmental Defense Fund. He helps manage his family’s farm in Clark County, South Dakota and blogs at the Republic of Awesome and tweets @donpcarr. Read more >

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