By Clint Thompson
What voters decide on Tuesday will have far-reaching implications on the agricultural sector, including the upcoming Farm Bill.
Mary Kay Thatcher, senior manager in federal government and industry relations with Syngenta, emphasizes the ramifications of what transpires at the polls during these mid-term elections.
“Mid-terms are always really important. I know a big part of our population thinks only about the presidential election, but as you well know all 435 members of the House and one-third of the Senate is up every two years,” Thatcher said. “I think also as we go into a Farm Bill, this is a year we’ll be wanting to watch. We’ll be wanting to have rural voters very engaged, but there’s likely to be some big changes. If you believe the vast majority of the pundits, the Republicans will take the House and that means G.T. Thompson from Pennsylvania will be chairman of the House Ag Committee. I think it’s safe to say he’s going to have very different priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill than has David Scott.
“In the Senate, it is very much up for grabs for either the Republican or Democratic side. There, too, you would find a difference between (Debbie) Stabenow and (John) Boozman, depending on who is the chairman.”
Whoever gets elected will also have the opportunity to serve on the various committees will also impact the Ag industry as well.
“I don’t want to leave people thinking that the Ag committee is the only one that’s important, because we’ve learned that in spades, that while it’s wonderful to have your friends on the Ag committee, it’s also important on who’s running the Finance committee in House Ways and Means. They’re responsible for all of the trade work,” Thatcher said.
The elections come during a challenging time for specialty crop producers. Production costs are high and are part of high inflation seen across the world. Diesel shortages are sparking fears of increased costs at the pump.
Voters are becoming more aware of political fundamental principles like balancing the budget. That will come into play on Tuesday as well.
“I’m a believer that while people, amazing to me, have not spent a lot of time focusing on the debt and deficit over the last 15 years in Washington, I think that’s changing. That’s going to make a big impact,” Thatcher said. “I think there will be people who will come after the Estate Tax and Capital Gains and trying to do more of balancing the budget and where do we get the funding. I think that very well could lead to real difficulty in getting additional funds for the Farm Bill to improve the safety net as we go into a year with high farm inputs. Lots of things, lots of different people in various committees that will be really critical to agriculture’s success.”