The Senate Ag Committee has a new chair. Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., has taken the position formerly held by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Harkin has accepted the chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, labor and Pensions Committee, succeeding the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and while he will remain on the Agriculture Committee, he has to relinquish the chairmanship.
Lincoln confirmed the moves Wednesday afternoon. She told reporters in Washington that with such priorities as child nutrition reauthorization, farm bill implementation, and regulation of commodities, the Committee has a full plate. She promised to devote her full energy to producing forward-looking, balanced priorities on behalf of all families and communities.
House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said Lincoln's passion and support for American agriculture make her an excellent choice.
As for serving as chairman of the HELP Committee, Harkin said that to serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of his life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.
The National Corn Growers Association was among the many organizations to step forward and thank Harkin for his service as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. NCGA Chairman Ron Litterer said Harkin has been a strong supporter of the corn industry and that the organization has worked well with him throughout his tenure.
The National Pork Producers Council praised Harkin as a true friend of America's pork producers. NPPC President Don Butler says it was his leadership that ensured that the 2008 Farm Bill was good for pork producers and didn't contain any mischief for the industry. Lincoln also played key role in the 2008 Farm Bill debate, ensuring a strong safety net for America's farm families.
As for the new Chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, Litterer said Lincoln has been an advocate of investments in renewable energy, conservation and farm programs that benefit production agriculture and rural America.
American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says Lincoln has represented the interests of agriculture and rural America, has deep ties to farming, and will continue to be a strong voice for the industry.