Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

Chair: Pat Roberts

D+

Projected Grade for the 116th Congress*

* 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]

0 Investigative Oversight Hearings

9 Policy/Legislative Hearings

14 Total Hearings

Last updated: July 4, 2020, 9:55 a.m.

The Committee has broad authority over federal farm policy, including the $20 billion-a-year farm subsidy program, food stamps and school lunch programs, and the U.S. Forest Service, a division of the Agriculture Department. Every five years it reauthorizes the Farm Bill. President Trump signed the most recent one, a $867-billion measure, in December 2018, the end of the 115th Congress, three months after the previous Farm Bill expired. The delay was caused by a fight over a GOP effort to tighten eligibility rules for food stamps, which account for three-quarters of the bill’s price tag. The committee also has jurisdiction over the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, an independent agency that regulates farm commodity futures as well as the $600 trillion financial derivatives market. The committee has five subcommittees: commodities, risk management and trade; rural development and energy; conservation, forestry and natural resources; nutrition, agricultural research and specialty crops; and livestock, marketing and agriculture security.

The committee has a modest hearing schedule compared to other committees without large nomination responsibilities. During the 115th Congress (2017-18) under Chair Pat Roberts (R, Kan.), the committee held 22 hearings, or fewer than 12 a year, about average for the committee over the past five Congresses.

In most years, legislative and policy oversight comprise roughly half the committee’s hearing schedule. In the 115th Congress, the committee held 11 legislative and policy hearings, including eight examining various “perspectives” on the long-pending 2018 Farm Bill. That total figure was a drop from 14 in the previous Congress, and the second-fewest policy and legislative oversight hearings during the 10-year period.

In the 115th Congress the committee held no investigative oversight hearings, consistent with its historical record. The committee has held no investigative oversight since the 112th Congress (2011-12). The last two investigative hearings it held, in 2011 and 2012, both dealt with the spectacular collapse of MF Global, a derivatives broker and primary dealer in U.S. Treasury securities headed by former Sen. John Corzine (D, N.J.) and regulated by the CFTC. After a $6 billion bet on European bonds went bad, the firm filed for bankruptcy in October, 2011, at the time the eighth-largest bankruptcy filing U.S. history, and $1.6 billion in customer funds were missing. Many of those customers were in farm country. (The second hearing in 2012 also dealt with the collapse of another futures broker, Peregrine Financial Group.)


Chairs

111th Congress: Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)

112th Congress: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

113th Congress: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

114th Congress: Pat Roberts (R-KS)

115th Congress: Pat Roberts (R-KS)

116th Congress: Pat Roberts (R-KS)


Current Congress

We are 82% of the way through the 116th Congress

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

0 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 0% historical maximum
9 Policy/Legislative Hearings; 74% historical maximum
14 Total Hearings; 55% historical maximum

Committee History

Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
Investigative/Oversight Policy/Legislative Total Hearings Score Grade
111th Congress 0 13 29 85% B
112th Congress 2 14 23 100% A
113th Congress 0 9 17 54% F
114th Congress 0 14 17 69% D+
115th Congress 0 11 22 68% D+
116th Congress* 0 9 14 69% D+
Historical average 0.3 11.7 20.3

* 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]

Number of Hearings

--- Historical Average

Hearings held by the
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

Date Hearing Title Committee Category