After finishing a lot of last-minute business, the 116th Congress has officially ended and the 117th Congress has been sworn in. This Congress is going to have some interesting discussions in their first week of action, but it is also going to be the legislative body for the next two years. There are many returning veterans of both the House and the Senate, but there will also be new faces to get acquainted with. There will also be new leadership on both Agriculture Committees, which means that Ag groups are already getting their boots on the ground and getting ready to get to work with their priorities for a new Congress, and soon, a new administration. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is among these groups, and they recently laid out their focus for the 117th Congress.
It is nothing new to see new faces when a new Congress is sworn in, getting to know these new people and talk to them about the importance of strong agricultural policy is nothing new to the AFBF. Executive Vice President Dale Moore says their first priority is to make themselves known to the new members of Congress and lay out their priorities to the new leadership of the Congressional Ag Committees.
Moore is talking about Arkansas Senator John Boozman who will succeed retired Kansas Republican Pat Roberts as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
As we head into the Congress, Moore says that two of their biggest priorities will include trade, especially with how it relates to trading partners in the Pacific Rim. Also, they will be starting the discussions on the next Farm Bill which will be coming up in 2023. This will be the first Farm Bill since the impact of trade wars and COVID-19 have been fully felt by the agricultural community.
Of course, another topic that will be coming up is the discussion about the availability of guest workers to help farmers and ranchers. With a new Congress and a new Democratic administration coming to the White House, there will be a new way of approaching these discussions. Moore says that this is an ongoing challenge that needs to find a solution.
The dust will be kicked up in both chambers of Congress, this week, as they look to certify the results of the electoral college. Georgia still must decide who they are sending as Senators on Wednesday, and this could still set up an interesting dynamic that we will have to navigate. Once the dust settles on a turbulent week, it will be time to roll up sleeves and get back to business. That is what the American Farm Bureau Federation is looking forward to doing with the new Congress and administration.