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House Agriculture gets second spending cardinal as member

Bishop arrives as USDA under scrutiny over discrimination

Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., who chairs the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is now joining the House Agriculture Committee.
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., D-Ga., who chairs the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, is now joining the House Agriculture Committee. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Agriculture Committee will get its second spending cardinal as a member with the announcement that Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Sanford D. Bishop Jr. is taking a seat on the panel.

Bishop, D-Ga., served on the authorizing committee from 1993 to 2003. He said his return to the panel means he’ll have a hand in developing and funding farm and nutrition policy.

“As an appropriator, we spend the money. The wish list comes from the authorizers,” Bishop said Tuesday night. “This is a wonderful opportunity to be both an authorizer and an appropriator. I think it puts me in a position to really maximize my experience, maximize my influence to the benefit of agriculture.”

Bishop said the House Agriculture Committee will deal with a number of issues in this Congress, particularly as the panel does the groundwork for writing a new farm bill in 2023.

He joins Interior-Environment Appropriations Chairwoman Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, as the Agriculture Committee’s other spending cardinal, as Appropriations subcommittee chairs are often called.

House Agriculture Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., has said the panel will spend the year on issues like climate strategies for agriculture, rural communities’ access to broadband, improving distribution of disaster aid, expanding crop insurance, food insecurity and challenges facing Black farmers. The committee also will review the Agriculture Department’s implementation of programs under the 2018 farm bill.

Scott has said much of the committee work will be done with an eye to identifying policies to include in the 2023 farm bill.

Bishop, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, represents a peanut-growing area of southwestern Georgia. He is one of two Black members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of fiscally conservative Democrats. His presence on the Agriculture Committee may help in funding policies designed to address minority farmers’ access to credit and land. 

Scott has said provisions in the current COVID-19 relief bill to provide debt relief and other aid to minority farmers are needed “to correct this long-documented history of discrimination.”

The reconciliation package before the Senate would provide an estimated $4 billion for debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers and $1 billion to expand a network of nonprofits, educational institutions and organizations to provide technical assistance and lending to minority farmers.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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