It has been an incredibly busy year with many interesting twists and turns along the way. As 2022 draws to a close and the mid-term elections are all but wrapped up, we are beginning to gain clarity on what will be in and out as we enter the new year. So, with no further ado, here are my annual ins and outs as we end one year and head into another.
The Farm Bill – The legislation, which governs many of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s programs, is up for reauthorization in 2023. My staff and I, along with our state partners, are working to educate members of Congress about the importance of the farm bill for agriculture. We are already working with our congressional allies to protect and improve programs important to corn growers. Speak up on your priorities, and stay tuned for more updates as the legislative process proceeds.
Coalitions – As discussions about the farm bill intensify, we will work with the broad political partnerships that have been built over the years to help advance comprehensive legislation, including agriculture and food provisions. We know that politics can make for strange bedfellows but the more interests we can bring to the table, the more likely we are to be successful. We will also be working with more targeted coalitions, such as the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, as the farm bill process gears up. Here’s to working together!
New Members of Congress – There will be an influx of new members in the new Congress. Many of these members have not worked on federal agriculture issues. They will be bringing in new staff members, and the committee makeup of the House of Representatives is likely to change. My staff and I will be working to educate new members about our issues, building relationships and fostering bipartisan work. But we are hopeful that some of these new members will come to the table with a baseline understanding of the importance of what corn growers deliver to the American people and the world. After all, it’s corn!
Moderation & Compromise – There has been a lot said about the power of the left-leaning Squad and the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House, but American voters sent a clear message on election day that moderation and results are important. Reps. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Abigail Spanberger(D-Va.), all moderates and agriculture champions, for example, were re-elected in districts that tend to favor more conservative candidates. Additionally, the new Congress will include 18 House Republicans who will represent districts won by President Biden — up from nine after the 2020 election. These numbers, juxtaposed with the general tenor of the election, in which more vocal members either lost seats or came close to losing their seats, could be a moderating force in Congress over the next two years. I hope we can use this as an opportunity to get things done for you.
Long-Time Partners – As is typical with any new session of Congress, we will see real champions for agriculture and the interests of corn growers moving on this year. Some are retiring, some lost their re-election bids, but they will all be missed. Retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) has been a champion for both agriculture and biofuels and led the charge on the Next Generation Fuels Act. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) were unsuccessful in their re-election bids but have worked tirelessly over their respective tenures on issues of importance to corn growers. These three, and many others, have helped the advancement of our policy priorities, and we wish them all the very best in their next chapter.
The House Democratic Leadership – Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Rep. Stenny Hoyer D-Md.) and Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) indicated they will be leaving their leadership posts in the new Congress. Speaker Pelosi first began her leadership role for the Democratic Caucus in 2003 and she has proven to be a consequential leader. She has also been a strong supporter of the Renewable Fuel Standard. We look forward to working with the new Democratic leadership. We also look forward to working with the Republican leadership as they assume the helm in the House.
A great corn grower leader – Goodbyes and farewells are never easy, particularly when one is talking about an amazing leader who has done so much to advocate on behalf of the agricultural community. But after 20 years at NCGA, CEO Jon Doggett will be leaving the organization as he seeks new adventures. Jon has hired, mentored, and fostered the development of many Washington professionals as he has worked to shape major legislation on behalf of corn farmers across the country. Words cannot even begin to express how much we will miss him and his stellar leadership.
That’s it for this year’s Ins and Outs. We look forward to embracing the changes and ups and downs that lay ahead as we head into a new year. In the meantime, we hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season!
Appleton is vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association.