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Senate Ag Committee Chairman: “We Will See What Dials Can Be Turned”

The Senate Agriculture Committee will start its work on the 2018 farm bill by listening to the countryside, says the returning chairman, Pat Roberts (R-KS).

“We’re going to take a hard look at what is and isn’t working, and we’ll start by listening. As I said when I first became chairman of the Agriculture Committee, we must listen to farmers and ranchers first.

“Times are tough right now in farm country,” says Roberts. “We will see what dials can be turned up or down in the current farm bill to provide some relief.” The committee will have a busy schedule, he says, “as we point our focus to completing a new farm bill.”

Democrats will have a stronger voice on the Agriculture Committee on each side of the Capitol, a reflection of the small gains they made in the general elections.

After party ratios were adjusted, Democrats gained one seat on each committee, while Republican totals stayed the same. The Senate committee has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats for the two-year session that began last month. The House Agriculture Committee has 26 Republicans and 20 Democrats.

Notably, House Republican leaders gave a seat to Roger Marshall, who defeated three-term Representative Tim Huelskamp in the GOP primary last August in Kansas’ Big First congressional district. The headline issue in the race was for the district, one of the top agriculture districts in the nation, to regain a seat on the Agriculture Committee. Huelskamp, a Tea Party favorite, was removed from the committee by party leaders in 2012 as an obstructionist and a troublemaker.

This article was produced in collaboration with the Food & Environment Reporting Network, an independent, nonprofit news organization producing investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

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