Chair: David Scott
Grade for the 117th Congress
0 Investigative Oversight Hearings
25 Policy/Legislative Hearings
61 Total HearingsLast updated: July 18, 2023, 3:58 p.m.
The committee authorizes U.S. farm policy and its large subsidies to farmers and ranchers, as well as timber policy via the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture Department. It also has jurisdiction over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, which at $58 billion a year and more than 34 million recipients is actually larger than the direct farm subsidy program. It also oversees the commodity exchanges. As a result, the committee has a mix of urban and rural representatives. They often act in a bipartisan way with regard to farm programs, but sometimes clash over expanding or restricting food stamp benefits. It has six subcommittees: commodity exchanges, energy and credit; conservation and forestry; nutrition, oversight and department operations; general farm commodities and risk management; biotechnology, horticulture and research; and livestock and foreign agriculture.
Like its Senate counterpart, the committee’s highest profile job is to produce a new Farm Bill every five years (the last was in 2018, the end of the 115th Congress). That helps explain its somewhat erratic hearing schedule, which has ranged from a high of 71 in the 114th Congress (2015-16) to a low of just 23 in the previous Congress. It is one of the least active committees in the House.
During the 116th Congress (2019-20) under Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN), the committee recorded the third worst hearing record in the House, earning a D. That's in sharp contrast to the last time Peterson chaired the committee, in the 111th Congress (2009-10), when it earned an A and set the standard for committee hearing performance. In the 116th Congress the committee held only 18 legislative and policy hearings, the second fewest among the six Congresses surveyed.
In the 12 years from the 111th Congress to the 116th Congress (2009-20), the committee held only one investigative oversight hearing, in the 112th Congress (2011-12), even though it has a subcommittee with oversight as part of its responsibilities.
111th Congress: Collin Peterson (D-MN)
112th Congress: Frank Lucas (R-OK)
113th Congress: Frank Lucas (R-OK)
114th Congress: Mike Conaway (R-TX)
115th Congress: Mike Conaway (R-TX)
116th Congress: Collin Peterson (D-MN)
117th Congress: David Scott (D-GA)
We are 100% of the way through the 117th Congress
House Committee on Agriculture0 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 0% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]