by Max Brantley
It's done. Sen. Blanche Lincoln will chair the Senate Agriculture Commitee. The reporting on the jump is from Agri-Pulse, an agriculture news service. This is more than a little useful politically to Lincoln -- think Farm Bureau and chickens -- even if it is of little moment to city dwellers. (It almost certainly means we'll be force-fed still more of her swill about the non-existent estate tax problem.)
"I know my daddy is smiling down on me today," Lincoln's statement said.
The Farm Bureau is thrilled beyond measure. Its statement down below.
Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) made our speculation from this morning official: Harkin will move from the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee to lead the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, while Lincoln takes his former seat as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. In the committee’s 184-year history, Lincoln will be the first Arkansan and first female ever to serve as Chairman.
Lincoln is hosting a press conference at 3:45 EDT today to discuss her new role. Senior Editor Stewart Doan, who also hails from Arkansas, will cover the event and post audio on our web site shortly afterwards. Just go to www.Agri-Pulse.com
In breaking the news, Lincoln offered the following statement:
“As a seventh-generation Arkansan and farmer’s daughter, I know my father is smiling down on me today,” Lincoln said. “I am fortunate to have served on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry since I was first elected to the Senate in 1998. It has been a committee of significant importance to my constituents and our state’s economy. The Committee’s responsibilities encompass a number of issues that are critical to Americans, particularly those living in rural areas. With such priorities as child nutrition reauthorization, farm bill implementation, and regulation of commodities, the Committee has a full plate. I thank Senator Harkin for his tremendous leadership. As Chairman, I will work with my colleagues to build upon the Committee’s strong record and devote my full energy to producing forward-looking, balanced priorities on behalf of all families and communities. I will continue to fight for the hardworking farm families and rural communities who provide the safest, most abundant and affordable supply of food and fiber in the world.”
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement regarding succession of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).
“Today I am honored to accept the chairmanship of the Senate HELP Committee. To serve in this capacity is to carry on the legacy of Senator Ted Kennedy, who dedicated his life to ensuring that our economy works for all Americans, guaranteeing every child the opportunity to pursue a quality education and, of course, the cause of his life: access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. In this last endeavor, I expect to work closely with Senator Dodd, who has guided the HELP Committee so capably in reporting The Affordable Health Choice Act, and who will continue to play a leading role as health care legislation moves to the Senate floor.
“Of course agriculture will always be a key interest to my home state of Iowa, so I intend to remain a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, a Committee I have been on since I first joined the Senate in 1985. My dedication to the Agriculture Committee dates back to my first year in Congress when I served on the House Agriculture Committee in 1975. In that time, I have had the great privilege of serving as Chairman of the Senate Committee during enactment of the 2002 and 2007 farm bills – bipartisan legislation that passed this body by an overwhelming majority. It is because of these bills that support for renewable energy and support for farm income grew exponentially, acres and acres of lands have been preserved through conservation efforts, rural developments efforts grew to help small towns that Americans have access to more fruits and vegetables and food assistance is covered for American families who need it. I intend to remain a member of the Committee.”
FARM BUREAU NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Farm Bureau president Randy Veach says Senator Blanche Lincoln assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee will provide benefits for the entire U.S. agricultural sector. Arkansas’ senior senator assumed the key committee chairmanship on Wednesday.
“Sen. Lincoln’s deep agricultural heritage gives her a strong understanding of the needs of agriculture,” said Veach, a cotton, rice and soybean producer from Manila (Mississippi County). “We believe this will be good, not only for Arkansas agriculture, but for all of U.S. agriculture. The senator’s interest in the well being of U.S. farm families is deep and sincere.
“Agriculture is near to her heart, and she takes great pride in representing Arkansas' farmers and ranchers. As chairman, she'll be able to expand that impact to others across the country.”
Veach noted that Sen. Lincoln is the first Arkansan to serve as chairman of the Senate Ag Committee. Agriculture is Arkansas' largest industry, accounting for $15.9 billion annually and representing roughly 20 percent of the state's gross state product.
In 2008, Lincoln received the Golden Plow Award, presented bi-annually by the American Farm Bureau Federation to one member each in the Senate and House in recognition of their voting records on issues that affect agriculture. Additionally, Lincoln has five times been awarded the Friend of Farm Bureau Award by Arkansas Farm Bureau.
"We value the long and deep relationships the leaders of our organization have had with Sen. Lincoln," Veach said. "She is a true friend of agriculture.
“Sen. Lincoln has, time and again, demonstrated her dedication to agriculture and the rural way of life. She has worked tirelessly to educate other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, on the importance of the U.S. having sound farm policy and the benefits that our farm programs provide the citizens of this great country."
Arkansas Farm Bureau is a nonprofit, private advocacy organization of more than 227,000 families throughout the state working to improve farm and rural life.