Senate Republicans this week formally selected Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas as the new chairman for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Former Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will become ranking member.
Roberts is now the only legislator who has served as both House and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman.
"I am honored to work for America's farmers and ranchers," Roberts said in a statement Thursday. The Senator has served on the Senate ag committee since 1997, and was previously the Ranking Member from 2011-2013.
Roberts faces a packed schedule as trade, school nutrition, environmental regulations and grain inspection issues are likely to dominate discussions.
Roberts lists further discussion on farm bill implementation, child nutrition and USDA oversight among his priorities as Chairman.
"Production agriculture must rise to face a daunting challenge: feeding a growing and hungry global population," Roberts said. "I will work to see that the federal government is an ally, not an adversary, in this purpose. I will fight to ensure farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to advance American agriculture. I will fight barriers to trade opportunities and regulations that threaten our producers' competitiveness. And I will continue my work to maintain the security of our food supply and ensure science based regulations govern our food and agriculture sectors."
On Thursday, the American Soybean Association offered support for Roberts in his new position.
"Chairman Roberts has built a deep and fluent knowledge of agricultural policy, specifically the crop insurance and disaster assistance programs that are so vital to the success of soybean farmers," ASA President Wade Cowan said. "At his core, he understands the intricacies of our industry, and we look forward to a great partnership with him."
Thanks for Stabenow
ASA also praised Sen. Debbie Stabenow for her work as former Chairwoman. Sens. Stabenow and Roberts led the Agriculture Committee as chair and ranking member, respectively, for the majority of Stabenow's time as chairwoman, and together laid the majority of the framework for the 2014 Farm Bill, ASA noted.
"We can't overstate the impact that Ranking Member Stabenow's leadership has had on the success of American soybean farmers," Cowan said. "As a direct result of her determination, resolve and bipartisan leadership, we have a set of enacted laws--not just good ideas on a drawing board--that help us stay competitive and successful every day."
Newly elected Republican Sens. Joni Ernst, Iowa; Ben Sasse, Nebraska; Thom Tillis, North Carolina; and David Perdue, Georgia, are new faces on the Senate Ag Committee.
Republican Senators retiring from service and therefore leaving the Committee include Mike Johanns, Nebraska, and Saxby Chambliss, Georgia.
Democrats leaving the Senate Ag Committee include retiring Tom Harkin, Iowa, and John Walsh, Montana.