House Agriculture Committee ranking member Mike Conaway (R., Texas) announced this week that he will not seek re-election. Conaway, who is serving his eighth term in the House, chaired the House Agriculture Committee from 2015 through 2018 and is currently serving as its ranking member.
“This chapter in our lives has been more fulfilling than I could ever have imagined, but all things come to an end point, and my eighth term will be mine. I will fulfill my duties to the 11th District by serving the rest of the term,” Conaway said in a statement July 31.
Including his time in the military, Conaway said he will have spent 34% of his adult life in public service. Conaway said he will finish his third term as chair of the House Agriculture Committee and then will be terming out. The next committee chair he could compete for would be the House Armed Services Committee, but two members are ahead of Conaway in seniority, and the chairmanship would be a six-year commitment.
In a tweet from a fellow Senate Republican, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) called Conaway a “champion for farmers, ranchers and growers throughout his eight terms in Congress.” Conaway and Roberts were part of the Big 4 who helped shepherd the 2018 farm bill to the President’s desk, despite Conaway’s attempts to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Both Conaway and Roberts have chosen not to run for re-election in 2020, bringing about a new dynamic in Congress regarding discussions on the next farm bill as well as important reauthorizations pertinent to agriculture.
House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) said their work together will continue to focus on the interests of rural America through the 116th Congress. He wished Conaway and his wife well as they look forward to a new chapter in 2021.
“He has been a steadfast champion for America’s farmers and ranchers and a fighter for the interests of west Texas and the 11th District,” Peterson said in a statement.
The National Cotton Council said Conaway wholeheartedly served U.S. agriculture, including demonstrating superb leadership through the development and passage of the 2018 farm bill. Council chairman Mike Tate noted, for example, that Conaway worked tirelessly to bolster the cotton provisions of the 2014 farm bill, specifically making seed cotton eligible for the Agriculture Risk Coverage/Price Loss Coverage program as part of a budget agreement in early 2018.
“Congressman Conaway exercised valuable leadership in bolstering cotton’s safety net, because U.S. cotton farmers were being hurt by weak global prices, and many were being negatively affected by multiple bad weather events,” Tate said. “The entire industry wishes Mr. Conaway and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”
Conaway is the fifth Republican to announce retirement in the last two weeks.