Ag Policy Blog

Senate Aggies Plan Farm Bill Hearing in Kansas

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold its first hearing on the 2018 farm bill on February 23 in Manhattan, Kan., Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced Wednesday.

The hearing will be held at McCain Auditorium, Kansas State University, 1501 Goldstein Circle, Manhattan, Kan., but the time and witnesses have not been announced.

"It's time to get to work on another farm bill, and we're heading straight to the heartland to talk directly to producers," said Roberts. "I can't think of a more appropriate venue to hold this hearing than Manhattan, Kan., the home of Kansas State University, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, and Kansas Farm Bureau.

"Our producers have had time to employ the programs in the current farm bill, and they have a lot to say," he added. "We need clear direction on what is working and what is not working in farm country, and we will be listening to see what needs to be adjusted.

"As I said at the beginning of the 114th Congress, I will put farmers and ranchers first in the Senate Agriculture Committee," Roberts concluded.

Stabenow added, "As we begin to have discussions about the next farm bill, we will need input from farmers and families all across the country. I am looking forward to this first field hearing in Chairman Roberts' home state to hear directly from producers and others who care about rural America so we can craft a bill that continues to strengthen American agriculture as well as small towns and rural communities."

Outlook Forum May Lack Secretary, Senators

Meanwhile, the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing also conflicts with the annual USDA Outlook Forum scheduled for Feb. 23-24. The Outlook Forum may have to take place without an Agriculture secretary.

Trump administration officials have said that Perdue's confirmation hearing will not be held until mid- to late February, Politico reported.

President's Day is February 20, and the Senate is scheduled to be out that week, making confirmation before the forum questionable even if the confirmation hearing has been held.

Senate Ag Appropriators Named

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will chair the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee in the 115th Congress, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., announced late Tuesday.

Hoeven will succeed Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who will take over the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Ill., a freshman, has joined the minority on the committee.

Hoeven said in a statement, "Our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, which benefits every American, every day. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to invest in rural America and programs that help North Dakota's and the nation's producers feed our country, including implementation of the farm bill, agriculture research, rural development, energy and conservation programs. We also look forward to making sure that we have flexibility in our school meal programs so that schools are able to serve nutritious meals within their budgets that students will eat."

Cochran also released a full roster of the subcommittee, which is formally known as the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee:

Republican members:

John Hoeven of North Dakota, chairman

Thad Cochran of Mississippi

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Susan Collins of Maine

Roy Blunt of Missouri

Jerry Moran of Kansas

Marco Rubio of Florida

Democratic members:

Jeff Merkley of Oregon, ranking member

Dianne Feinstein of California

Jon Tester of Montana

Tom Udall of New Mexico

Patrick Leahy of Vermont

Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin

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