Jurisdiction of the Committee

Rules of the House of Representatives

Rule X

Establishment and Jurisdiction of Standing Committees

  1.  There shall be in the House the following standing committees, each of which shall have the jurisdiction and related functions assigned to it by this clause and clauses 2, 3, and 4; and all bills, resolutions, and other matters relating to subject within the jurisdiction of any standing committee as listed in this clause shall (in accordance with and subject to clause 5) be referred to such committees, as follows:
  1. Adulteration of seeds, insect pests, and protection of birds and animals in forest reserves.
  2. Agriculture generally.
  3. Agricultural and industrial chemistry.
  4. Agricultural colleges and experiment stations.
  5. Agricultural economics and research.
  6. Agricultural education extension services.
  7. Agricultural production and marketing and stabilization of prices of agricultural products, and commodities (not including distribution outside of the United States).
  8.  Animal industry and diseases of animals.
  9. Commodity exchanges.
  10. Crop insurance and soil conservation.
  11. Dairy industry.
  12. Entomology and plant quarantine.
  13. Extension of farm credit and farm security.
  14. Inspection of livestock, poultry, meat products, and seafood and seafood products.
  15. Forestry in general, and forest reserves other than those created from the public domain.
  16. Human nutrition and home economics.
  17. Plant industry, soils, and agricultural engineering.
  18. Rural electrification.
  19. Rural development.
  20. Water conservation related to activities of the Department of Agriculture.

This  committee was  established in 1820  (IV, 4149).  In  1880  the  subject of forestry was  added to its  jurisdiction, and  the  committee was  conferred authority to receive estimates of and  to report appropriations (IV, 4149). However, on  July 1, 1920,  authority to  report appropriations for  the  De- partment of Agriculture was  transferred to the  Committee on Appropria- tions (VII, 1860).

The basic  form of the  present jurisdictional statement was made effective January 2, 1947,  as  a part of the  Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 812). Subparagraph (7) was  altered by the  93d Congress, effective January 3, 1975,  to include jurisdiction over  agricultural  commodities (in- cluding the  Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)) while  transferring juris- diction over  foreign distribution and  nondomestic production of commod- ities  to  the  Committee on  Foreign Affairs (H.  Res.  988,  93d  Cong.,  Oct.

8, 1974,  p. 34470).  Nevertheless, the  committee has  retained limited jurisdiction over  measures to release CCC  stocks for such  foreign distribution (Sept. 14, 1989,  p. 20428).  Previously unstated jurisdictions over  commod- ities  exchanges and  rural development were  codified  effective January  3,1975.

The  104th Congress consolidated the  committee’s jurisdiction  over  in- spection of livestock and  meat products to  include inspection of poultry, seafood, and  seafood products,  and  added subparagraph (20)  relating to water conservation (sec.  202(a),  H.  Res.  6, Jan. 4, 1995,  p. 464).  Clerical and   stylistic changes were  effected when the  House recodified its  rules in the 106th Congress (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 1999, p. 47).

The  committee has  had  jurisdiction over  bills  for establishing and  regu- lating the  Department of Agriculture (IV, 4150),  for inspection of livestock and  meat products, regulation of animal industry, diseases of animals (IV,4154;  VII,  1862),  adulteration of seeds, insect pests, protection of birds and  animals in  forest reserves (IV, 4157;  VII,  1870),  the  improvement of the  breed of horses, even  with the  cavalry service in  view  (IV, 4158;  VII,1865), and, in addition to the  Committee on Energy and  Commerce, amend- ing the  Horse Protection Act to prevent the  shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, or receiving of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption (July 13, 2006, p. 14304).

The  committee, having charge of the  general subject of forestry, has  re- ported bills relating to timber, and  forest reserves other than those created from  the  public  domain (IV, 4160).  The  Committee on Natural Resources, and  not  this committee, has  jurisdiction over  a  bill  to  convey  land that is part of a National Forest created from the  public  domain (Mar.  23, 2004, p. 4926).  The  committee also  has  exercised jurisdiction over  bills:  relating to agricultural colleges  and  experiment stations (IV, 4152),  incorporation of agricultural societies (IV, 4159), and  establishment of a highway commis- sion  (IV, 4153);  to discourage fictitious and  gambling transactions in farm products (IV,  4161;  VII,  1861);  to  regulate the  transportation, sale, and handling of dogs  and  cats  intended for use  in  research and  the  licensing of animal research facilities (July 29, 1965,  p. 18691);  to designate an agri- cultural research center (May  14,  1996,  p. 11070).  The  committee shares with the  Committee on  the  Judiciary jurisdiction over  a  bill  comprehen- sively  amending the  Immigration and  Nationality Act and  including  food stamp eligibility requirements for aliens (Sept. 19, 1995, p. 25533).

The House referred the  President’s message dealing with the  refinancing of farm-mortgage indebtedness to the  committee, thus conferring jurisdic- tion (Apr. 4, 1933, p. 1209).

The  committee has  jurisdiction over  a  bill  relating solely  to  executive level  positions in  the  Department of Agriculture (Mar.  2,  1976,  p.  4958) and  has  jurisdiction over bills  to develop land and  water conservation pro- grams on private and  non-Federal lands (June 7, 1976, p. 16768).

Some of the specific areas in which the Committee on Agriculture exercises its jurisdiction or that have been created for the Committee by historical reference include:

  1. Public Law 480, Eighty-third Congress, the restoration, expansion, and development of foreign markets for United States agricultural products; and the effect of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (and the North American Free Trade Agreement), bilateral free trade agreements, the European Community, and other regional economic agreements and commodity marketing and pricing systems on United States agriculture.
  2. All matters relating to the establishment and development of an effective Foreign Agricultural Service.
  3. Matters relating to rural development, including rural telephone companies, farm credit banks, farm rural housing loans, rural water supply, rural flood control and water pollution control programs, and loans for rural firehouses, community facilities, and businesses.
  4. Production and use of energy from agricultural and forestry resources.
  5. Matters relating to the development, use, and administration of the National Forests, including, but not limited to, development of a sound program for general public use of the National Forests consistent with watershed protection and sustained-yield timber management, study of the forest fire prevention and control policies and activities of the Forest Service and their relation to coordinated activities of other Federal, State, and private agencies; Forest Service land exchanges; and wilderness and similar use designations applied to National Forest land.
  6. Price spreads of agricultural commodities between producers and consumers.
  7. The formulation and development of improved programs for agricultural commodities; matters relating to the inspection, grading, and marketing of such commodities, including seafood; and food safety generally.
  8. Matters relating to trading in futures contracts for all commodities and similar instruments, including commodity options and commodity leverage contracts.
  9. The administration and operation of agricultural programs through State and county committees and the administrative policies and procedures relating to the selection, election, and operation of such committees.
  10. The administration and development of small watershed programs under Public Law 566, Eighty-third Congress, as amended, and the development of resource conservation and development programs for rural areas.
  11. Programs of food assistance or distribution supported in whole or in part by funds of the Department of Agriculture, including but not limited to the food stamp program and the commodity distribution program.
  12. Aquaculture programs of the Department of Agriculture.
  13. Sugar legislation, including import control programs that stabilize domestic prices.
  14. All matters relating to pesticides, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as amended, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Amendments of 1988, and the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, including, but not limited to, the registration, marketing, and safe use of pesticides, groundwater contamination, and the coordination of the pesticide program under FIFRA with food safety programs.
  15. Agricultural research programs, including, but not limited to, the authorization of specific research projects and agricultural biotechnology development efforts.
  16. All matters relating to the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
  17. Legislation relating to the control of the entry into the United States of temporary, nonresident aliens for employment in agricultural production.
  18. Legislation relating to the general operations and the Organic Act of the Department of Agriculture, the Commodity Credit Corporation, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Farm Credit Administration, Farm Credit System, Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  19. Producer-funded research, promotion, and consumer and industry information programs for agricultural commodities.
  20. Legislation regarding reclamation water projects where the pricing of water delivered by such projects is affected by whether the water will be used in the production of a crop for which an acreage reduction program is in effect.
  21. Legislation regarding reclamation water projects for which the Secretary of Agriculture is required to make a determination regarding commodity availability prior to the determination of the price to be charged for the delivery of such project water.
  22. Legislation establishing the level of fees charged by the Federal Government for the grazing of livestock on Federal lands.
  23. Legislation governing the Federal regulation of transactions involving swaps contracts, hybrid financial instruments, and derivative securities and financial products.
  24. Legislation regarding the Federal Reserve Board with respect to its authority to regulate the establishment of appropriate levels of margin on stock index futures contracts.

The Committee also reviews and studies, on a continuing basis, the current and prospective application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of those laws, or parts of laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdiction of the Committee, and the organization and operation of the Federal agencies and entities having responsibilities in or for the administration and execution thereof. In addition, the Committee, along with other standing Committees of the House, has the function of reviewing and studying on a continuing basis the effect or probable effect of tax and other fiscal and monetary policies affecting subjects within their jurisdiction

[1] References are to the volume and section of Hinds' (volumes I-V, e.g., IV, 500) and Cannon's (volumes VI-VIII, e.g., VI, 400) Precedents of the House of Representatives, and to the Congressional Record by date and page (e.g., January 3, 1953, p. 500).