Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran has played the seniority card to become the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Pat Roberts of Kansas wanted to maintain the position but yielded and gave his full support to the senior Senator.
Cochran has been on the Senate Ag Committee since 1979 and served as chair from 2003 to 2005. A statement on his website says: “I will use the experiences I’ve gained in serving on the committee since 1979 to help quickly advance a new Farm Bill that will meet the needs of our country’s farmers, small businesses and those who rely on the nutrition programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction. I look forward to working with Chairman Stabenow and members of the committee in this new Congress, and I thank Senator Roberts for his dedicated service as the Ranking Member during the 112th Congress.”
The move is seen as an advance of Southern interests in the next farm bill. The bill passed by the Senate last year was centered on revenue-based crop insurance which rice and peanut farmers found inadequate. The House version had some commodity programs and was more conducive to their interests.
Cochran will also continue to serve on the Senate Committee on Rules, as well as the Committee on Appropriations where he is expected to remain the Ranking Member on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.