Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Mexico has a Voice on the House Agriculture Committee

Lujan Grisham meets with local adovcates
This week, Rep.-elect Michellle Lujan Grisham, announced that she earned an appointment to the House Agriculture Committee.

“I am excited and honored to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture, which allows me the opportunity to represent consumers on food safety and nutrition issues, advocate for small businesses and affordable housing, and pursue investments in renewable energy,” Rep.-elect Lujan Grisham said in a statement on her Web site.  “I look forward to representing constituents who need access to modern infrastructure and economic development opportunities.”

So why is this important to anti-hunger advocates in New Mexico (particularly her constituents in the First Congressional District)?  This is the same committee that makes decisions on the Farm Bill. And even in  years when there is no Farm Bill debate, the committee makes funding decisions on  programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).  The committee also looks at some international food assistance programs managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition    Much of our advocacy work involves preserving and enhancing these domestic and international programs. 

When was the last time that a member of Congress from New Mexico was involved in decisions affecting nutrition and food programs?  That was back in 2000, when Rep. Joe Skeen (who represented Southern New Mexico), chaired the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

The news release did not mention in which subcommittee Rep-elect Lujan Grisham would serve.  And that could be a key to what role she plays on the committee.  Perhaps she will earn an appointment to either the Nutrition and Horticulture or the Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee. 

Local political blogger Joe Monahan has another suggestion about  Lujan Grisham's appointment to the committee.  "There is a lot of rural acreage in the district, including the ABQ South Valley and all of Torrance County. Maybe she can develop an interest in water--or the lack thereof--as she prepares to take the oath of office next week and begins her first term in the US House," said Monahan.  Read his full Dec. 28 post.

If this is the case, then Lujan Grisham could best serve this purpose on the Conservation, Energy, and Forestry subcommittee.

Regardless of which subcommittee assignment she draws, it is great for us to have a voice in the full Agriculture Committee, which  is so important to our work on domestic nutrition and some international programs.

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