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Race for House ag chair heats up

Race for House ag chair heats up
© Greg Nash

Rep. Jim CostaJames (Jim) Manuel CostaOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel DeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair MORE (D-Calif.) is throwing his hat in the ring to be the next chairman of the Agriculture Committee following Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE's (D-Minn.) loss in Tuesday's elections.

Peterson, who has chaired the committee for six of his nearly 30 years in Congress, was defeated by Republican Michelle Fischbach in a district long targeted by the GOP.

In a letter to colleagues, Costa cited his status as a third-generation farmer with 16 years on the committee, saying he would bring “a lifetime of knowledge about American agriculture to the chairmanship.”

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Costa’s letter follows one from Rep. David ScottDavid Albert ScottOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel DeLauro wins Steering Committee vote for Appropriations chair MORE (Ga.), the second-highest ranking Democrat on the Agriculture panel. Rep. Marcia FudgeMarcia FudgeOn The Money: Treasury announces efforts to help people get stimulus payments | Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury | Judge sets ground rules for release of Trump taxes Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Record number of women to serve in Biden Cabinet MORE (D-Ohio) has also been listed as a contender.

Any of the trio of top veterans on the committee could make history on a panel that has traditionally been chaired by white men from the rural U.S.

Both Fudge and Scott hail from more urban districts, and each has placed a value on the committee’s work on food assistance policy in addition to its more traditional ag roles.

Costa, a member of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, stressed the importance the rural connection could play after an election where Democrats did not do as well as expected.

“This year's election showed us again the deep, deep divide between rural and urban America. Our message of economic prosperity, lower healthcare costs, and and a better tomorrow is simply not resonating with large swaths of the county. As someone who has represented a rural district through a coalition of bipartisan support, I understand how to speak to rural American in a way they understand and appreciate,” he wrote, noting that the committee “can be better leveraged for the greater good of our caucus.”

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In his pitch to colleagues, Scott touched on climate change, rural economies and food security, arguing the committee could be used as an avenue for addressing a number of problems.

“The challenges before us go beyond simply fixing the mistakes of past administrations,” he wrote. “Each hearing, markup, and legislative action must take a step forward toward building a more equitable, dynamic and resilient agriculture industry that lays forth a new path for future generations.”

Costa took a similar tack, arguing the committee needed to fight Trump’s trade deals while extolling the importance of their committee’s food stamp work, calling food a national security issue.

“I will continue to ensure our most vulnerable Americans are given the assistance they need and work every day towards the goal of feeding every American.”