Earlier this week, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson was elected by the Republican Steering Committee to serve as Republican leader of the House Agriculture Committee, replacing Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, whom he worked under as vice ranking member in the current Congress.
Thompson is a familiar face to farmers and ag leaders in Pennsylvania. His district covers a big swath of north-central Pennsylvania, just east of Erie and west of Williamsport, going south to Altoona, and he is a familiar face at many agricultural events in the state, including the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Ag Progress Days.
He’s been an advocate for forestry-related programs, especially when it comes to the farm bill, and he has been an outspoken supporter of getting whole milk back in schools.
Thompson will be leading the committee’s Republican coalition, which he says will likely have four openings for new members when the 117th Congress gets sworn in next month. He says that he’s worked with incoming committee Chairman David Scott on two previous farm bills and calls him someone he can work with. Thompson says that he intends to work across the aisle when it comes to pushing agricultural legislation.
“With very few exceptions, every bill I introduce is bipartisan," he says. "I reach across the aisle. That’s my style with committee work as well."
Thompson says that he recently spoke to Rep.-elect August Pfluger of Texas, who told him that the No. 1 requested committee assignment by incoming freshman representatives is agriculture.
Incoming representatives will have a lot to learn with work on the upcoming 2022 Farm Bill likely kicking into high gear in 2021. Thompson says that virtual listening sessions on the next farm bill have already been held in home districts and that live in-person listening sessions could be held in spring if the COVID-19 vaccine helps to reduce cases.
He also says the committee will be focused on passing mandatory livestock price reporting legislation, working to expand domestic and foreign markets, passing bills to make agriculture more “resilient” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanding rural broadband.
“It is time for full and complete connectivity in rural America," Thompson says. "We need to take a laser-focused approach to connectivity. COVID has made this apparent."