• Special to the Leader & Times
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, a national leader in agriculture, today made history as he was voted the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Roberts goes into the history books as the first Member of Congress to serve as both chairman and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
In this new post as the ranking Republican, Roberts continues his leadership on behalf of Kansans, rural communities and production agriculture.
“I am honored to continue working on behlaf of America’s farmers and ranchers in this new position,” Roberts said. “Our nation is blessed with the safest, highest-quality and most affordable food and fiber in the world. I look forward to working with Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow. We have a history of working together on the Agriculture and Finance Committees, and I know we will make a great team for American Agriculture.
“Production agriculture faces a serious challenge: doubling output over the next 40 years to meet global hunger demands. Yet our producers face critical hurdles in meeting this challenge. Often, the federal government is the source of their frustration. I look forward to being a champion for those who feed a troubled and hungry world, while looking for new ways we can propel our industry and our rural communities into the next generation.”
Roberts’ priorities for the 112th Congress will focus on maintaining the production agriculture safety net, expanding trade opportunities for farmers and ranchers, conducting oversight of regulations that threaten the competitiveness of America’s farmers, and maintaining the security and science based sustainability of food and agriculture sectors.
As the House Agriculture Committee Chairman from 1995-1997, then Congressman Roberts led the reform of outdated federal farm policies. He also reformed the federal food stamp program, reducing waste, fraud and abuse. His advocacy for farmers and ranchers continued in the Senate as a key member of the Senate Agriculture Committee since 1997. In 2000, he wrote sweeping reforms to the federal crop insurance program. He also has called for a more aggressive U.S. trade policy and has fought to regain access to overseas markets for U.S. beef exports.
The last Kansan to hold the ranking member post of the Senate Agriculture Committee was U.S. Senator Robert J. Dole (R-KS) who 32 years ago 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.
In addition to the top Republican spot on Agriculture, Roberts will continue his work in behalf of Kansas as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, the Rules Committee and the Ethics Committee.