Stabenow Gets Nod for Senate Ag Chair

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow brings extra focus on specialty crops, conservation, food safety, research and energy as she takes over committee helm.

 U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenowwas next in line to receive the Senate Agriculture Committee chairmanship, and her colleagues gave her the nod today to take over the crucial position likely to be part of the writing of the next farm bill.

Stabenow, of Michigan, has served on the agriculture committees in the Michigan legislature, U.S. House of Representatives and currently the U.S. Senate. 

In a statement following the announcement, Stabenow said, "I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as we begin writing a new farm bill that once again recognizes the importance of America’s agricultural economy and rural communities."

During the last farm bill she authored the Specialty Crops title, the first ever fruit and vegetable title included. Dave Smith, executive director of the Michigan Vegetable Council said Stabenow "filled a leading role in the writing and passage of the 2008 Farm Bill" as she "recognized the importance of these crops to our country's agriculture."

Julia Baehre Rothwell, chair of the Michigan Apple Association, said "Stabenow has been a champion for Michigan growers of fruit including apples, as well as growers of vegetables, nursery and floricultural crops. All of agriculture should embrace an Agriculture chair who understands and supports specialty crops, in addition to traditional livestock and row crops."

Her push for additional funding beyond traditional crops could grow in the next debate, especially as she will be the head.

Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said Stabenow has a "proven track record of standing up for agriculture in Michigan, which produces more than 200 agriculture commodities and leads the nation in 11 of those. Stabenow understands the importance of agricultural policy to farmers and agri-business, but also rural communities. Feeding the world and encouraging new technology, while protecting our natural resources are issues Sen. Stabenow has been engaged in her entire career."

Many others spoke of Stabenow's commitment to conservation, food safety, energy and research.

Jeffrey D. Armstrong, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State University, said, "She is a champion for leveraging investments in research and outreach – much of which will be done at MSU and other land grant institutions – to expand the ag economic impact and improve the quality of life for all Americans."

This committee is top-heavy with former chairmen (Sens. Tom Harkin, Patrick Leahy,

Dick Lugar and Thad Cochran), one former House Agriculture Committee chairman (Pat Roberts), and one former USDA secretary (Mike Johanns). Stabenow will lead the way, but she will have plenty of others around her to guide her in the years ahead.


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