Congressman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., easily won reelection last week defeating his Republican opponent by 13%. Since Republicans did take over the majority in the House Peterson won't chair the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress, but he doesn't see that as a loss.
"It was going to be a tough slog to get a Farm Bill done and after the last one I wasn't sure I wanted to do another one, in terms of being in charge and having all that responsibility," Peterson said. "In a way being the ranking member will free me up to actually be a stronger advocate."
Peterson called incoming House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., to offer his congratulations and help. As chairman Lucas will set the Farm Bill schedule.
"In terms of the timing we do have a difference of opinion, he wants to wait and I think that's a mistake, but that's his prerogative," Peterson said. "He's going to have all the pressure and I'll help him when I think what he is doing is right and if I don't think what he is doing is right I'll oppose him. I think he knows me well enough to know how I approach things, but I'll be straight up, I'll be fair and I'll let him know exactly where I'm coming from."
Peterson says it is unrealistic to believe the Farm Bill will be passed in an election year, which will be the case in 2012. He adds that incoming Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is opposed to farm programs and Lucas may be asked to eliminate farm programs.
"Boehner left me alone in the 2008 bill even though he was opposed to it, and I'm forever grateful for that" Peterson said. "He's a good friend of mine and I can work with him even though we don't agree on some of this stuff. He may be pushed and not have any choice because of his caucus to weigh in to try to do something like Freedom to Farm where they are going to phase out subsidies again."
Peterson was one of the 11 Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee who won last Tuesday, while 15 other Democrats on the committee lost.