Courtesy House Ag Committee
As Democrats are poised to take over the House of Representatives in January, farmers and ranchers can breathe a little easier knowing that the House Ag Committee is in steady hands.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is the ranking minority member of the committee and is presumed to be its chairman come January. He began serving on the committee in 2005. He served as chairman when Democrats last held control of the House from 2007 through 2010.
He grew up on a farm in Minnesota and worked as an accountant before he began serving in Congress in 1991.
Peterson represents a relatively conservative district covering most of the western half of Minnesota. It’s largely a rural district that has voted for the Republican in the last five presidential elections. It’s home to wheat, sugar beet, dairy and livestock operations.
Peterson is said by many media outlets to be the most conservative Democrat in the House. While that’s a relative comparison, his past voting record supports the claim.
Peterson has supported a Constitutional amendment to protect the flag. He supports gun rights, earning an A plus rating and an endorsement in last week’s election from the National Rifle Association.
But more important to agriculture, Peterson is against excessive environmental regulations because they hurt farmers. As an example, he has supported legislation to take the grey wolf off of the Endangered Species List. He opposed the expansion of the definition of “waters of the United States by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers.
“The EPA, unfortunately, does not seem to understand how their proposed regulations would actually impact farmers and ranchers,” he said in 2015. “While the intent of the interpretive rule was to provide some clarity, it only creates more confusion and red tape.”
Peterson is a proponent for providing farmers with a strong safety net.
He supports elimination of the federal estate tax and tort reform.
Over the years we’ve been impressed by his work in moving previous farm bills through Congress. He wants to get the next bill passed even before the Democrats take over in January. He’s a known quantity and seems to be aligned with farmers on nearly every important ag issue.
We’ve not seen Peterson act as a partisan in his work on the committee. We don’t think either party could find a better member of Congress to be in charge of the committee.