By Erik Wasson - 12/06/12 02:31 PM EST
Seven House Repubicans will be joining the Agriculture Committee in January, Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) announced late Wednesday.
The new members are: Rep. Dan Benishek (Mich.), Chris Collins (N.Y.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Jeff Denham (Calif.), Richard Hudson (N.C.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.) and Ted Yoho (Fla.).
"I am pleased to welcome our new Republican members to the House Agriculture Committee. I look forward to working with all of them in the next Congress as we continue to ensure the health and vitality of production agriculture and rural economies," said Lucas.
Leadership removed conservative Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) from the committee to punish him for bucking leadership on too many votes.
In total, nine of this year's members will not be returning. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) lost in a primary and Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) retired. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) is heading to Financial Services. Also not coming back are: Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (Neb.), Randy Hultgren (Ill.), Bobby Schilling (Ill.), Steve Fincher (Tenn.) and Renee Ellmers (N.C.).
Lucas is struggling to get a five-year farm bill enacted this month as part of a fiscal-cliff deal. He has been in regular talks with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) about getting the deal in the package. Key to that will be coming to a compromise on food-stamp cuts. The House farm bill has $12 billion more in food-stamp cuts than the $4 billion in the Senate bill.