Ag News -
State Ag News
Thursday, 15 November 2012 15:24
By Mary Clarkin
The Hutchinson News
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, "intends" to remain the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to a statement from his staff.
But Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, Mississippi, has more seniority than Roberts and potentially could seek that role in the next session.
Even if Roberts remains a member of the Agriculture Committee -- fully anticipated by Roberts -- no longer being ranking minority would be a "pretty significant difference," said Terry Holdren, general counsel for Kansas Farm Bureau.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, and Roberts worked in bipartisan fashion to craft a new farm bill that eventually was passed by the Senate, Holdren noted.
Roberts was variously chairman or ranking minority member of the House Agriculture Committee when he served in the chamber, and has been on the Senate committee since entering the Senate in 1997.
"No one knows farm programs better than Pat Roberts," Holdren said.
A story by David Rogers appearing on the Politico web site this week, said Republican rules on term limits are pushing Cochran out of the ranking minority member slot on Senate Appropriations. He's considering bumping Roberts on the Agriculture Committee.
Rogers noted that the farm bill was more favorable to Midwest corn and soybean producers than Southern peanut, rice and wheat producers.
Simply because Cochran has more seniority in the Senate than Roberts does not mean he automatically can become the ranking Republican on the Senate panel. There would be a vote.
Roberts' staff pointed to a story in the Congressional Quarterly headlined, "Colleagues see Roberts keeping top GOP spot on Senate Ag."
However, when The News asked Cochran's staff about the situation Wednesday, spokesman Chris Gallegos referred to the Politico story and said Cochran "is considering his options."