WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Thursday made history when he was selected to chair the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Roberts is the first member of Congress to hold the top agriculture post in both the U.S. House of Representatives and now in the U.S. Senate.
“I am honored to work for America’s farmers and ranchers,” Roberts said. “I am proud to bring Kansas leadership to the Committee. I am humbled to serve as chairman and will continue to be a champion for rural Kansas.”
He said he looks forward to an aggressive schedule with hearings providing much needed oversight of our farm programs, school meals, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Production agriculture must rise to face a daunting challenge: feeding a growing and hungry global population,” he said. “I will work to see that the federal government is an ally, not an adversary, in this purpose.”
Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey praised the appointment.
“This is good news for Kansas farmers and ranchers,” McClaskey said. Pat Roberts understands the importance of agriculture to our great state and will work tirelessly to make sure that the Federal government does not get in the way of farm families who are working to produce the safest, most abundant food supply in the world.”
McClaskey looks forward to working with the Senator on issues important to the state. “There are a number of pressing concerns for those in agriculture, including the on-going pressure of excess regulation from various agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency. It is great to have Sen. Roberts in this leadership position advocating for our state’s largest industry.”
“We congratulate Sen. Roberts on being named Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman,” said Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts. “Kansans know Pat Roberts’ agriculture expertise and experience are unmatched in Washington.”
Felts said he has been a champion for crop insurance, steered trade deals through Congress and has fought regulations that cripple Kansas agriculture. “Kansas farmers and ranchers know there is no greater advocate for the rural way of life and Kansas values than Pat Roberts.”
Meanwhile, Roberts also said he vows to 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.”
The Committee will debate reauthorization of laws dealing with commodity trading, child nutrition, school meal programs and grain inspection.
Roberts’ priorities will include oversight of U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and policies and further hearings on Farm Bill implementation. Roberts said he will continue to ask tough questions of the Environmental Protection Agency regarding regulations affecting farmers and ranchers and conduct greater oversight of the enforcement and implementation of Dodd-Frank at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
As the House Agriculture Committee Chairman from 1995-1997, then Congressman Roberts oversaw the reform of outdated federal farm policies. He also oversaw the reform the federal food stamp program.
He has served as a key member of the Senate Agriculture Committee since 1997.
From 2011-2013, Roberts was the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Prior to Roberts, the last Kansan to hold the ranking member post of the Senate Agriculture Committee was U.S. Senator Robert J. Dole (R-KS) who served in that capacity from 1975-78. Prior to that, U.S. Senator Arthur Capper (R-KS) served as ranking member from 1943 to 1947, prior to chairing the Committee from 1947 to 1949. Senator James Lane (R-KS) was the first Kansan to serve as chairman in 1863.
Since the current committee structure was adopted, Roberts is the first in history to chair both the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Agriculture Committee. Roberts also becomes the first in history to chair and serve as the ranking member for both Agriculture Committees.
In addition to the top Republican spot on Agriculture, Roberts will serve as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, the Rules Committee and the Ethics Committee.