Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Ag committee chair says new faces mean new dynamic on Capitol Hill

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They are new, enthusiastic and changing the environment on Capitol Hill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas says “do not underestimate the effect” of the large number of freshmen lawmakers on his committee, which will sit down to overhaul U.S. farm subsidies next year. USA/

“This session of Congress is a little different from the ones I’ve participated in previously. A huge number of new members,” Lucas said at a Reuters Global Food and Agriculture Summit. “I’ve got a very enthusiastic bunch of new faces.”

It turns out that half of the House Agriculture Committee is new — 16 of 26 Republicans and 7 of 20 Democrats.

“Now, granted, freshmen Democrats are hard to come by,” he said, not missing a beat in taking a swipe at Democrats who were pounded in the November elections and lost control of the House of Representatives to Republicans.

Will growth in the food industry spur inflation?

Food and agriculture companies, having weathered the global economic meltdown, are now facing the prospects that renewed growth will spur renewed inflation.
With costs poised to rise for commodities like wheat and already high for items like sugar and cocoa, packaged foods makers face the task of trying to preserve profits at a time while retailers and consumers are balking at price increases.
Trade battles over U.S. meat and regulatory issues like a tax on soft drinks and push for more accurate disclosure of calories and fat on restaurant boards and food package are also concerns for the industry.

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