Farm lobby’s lawyer appointed as Ag Committee’s counsel
Here’s object lesson No. 452 in the ongoing corrosive handover of government power to corporate interests. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Over at Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard details the high-speed revolving door permanently located between the offices of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and several top energy lobbying outfits. But Sheppard also drops in this little-noticed fact:
The door to Lincoln’s office also spins the other direction … In December she hired Julie Anna Potts to serve as her chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which Lincoln chairs. Potts most recently served as general counsel for the American Farm Bureau Federation. The farm lobby in general and AFB in particular have vehemently opposed climate legislation — going so far as to deny that emissions are even a problem.
Sheppard puts this in the context of Lincoln’s position on climate change, which I’ve also discussed in the past. Lincoln’s decision to draw the Ag Committee’s chief counsel from the group that, despite its rhetoric, acts almost exclusively in the interests of the largest corporate commodity farmers, should tell you the direction she intends to take the re-authorization of the Farm Bill, scheduled for 2012.
If there’s any good news on this front, it’s that Lincoln faces a primary in her 2010 re-election campaign and, should she win it, is looking at bad poll numbers against her likely GOP opponent. The better news? Next in line for the Ag Committee chairmanship is the far more progressive Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). And with Detroit now on the cutting edge of urban agriculture, Stabenow has a whole new constituency in favor of broadening definitions of and government support for farming.
Still, for the moment, Lincoln’s in charge, and she’s doing what she can to douse already-dim hopes of real farm-policy reform.