Senate leadership names conferees to the farm bill

-The Hagstrom Report

Senate leaders today named nine conferees to the farm bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., named himself and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., named Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

The Republican leadership followed seniority in their choices. The Democrats skipped over four more senior members – Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Joe Donnelly of Indiana – to name Heitkamp, who has a tough re-election race in a state in which agriculture is particularly important to the economy.

In a statement, Heitkamp said, “It’s an honor to be named as a member of the farm bill conference committee. I’ve always said that as a U.S. senator from North Dakota, my top priority is getting a farm bill done. That’s what we did in 2014, and I want to make sure it happens again this year.

“It’s critical that Congress passes a bipartisan, common-sense farm bill before the current bill expires at the end of September so we can give North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and rural communities some needed certainty amid uncertain times for agriculture,” Heitkamp said. “The Senate passed a strong, bipartisan farm bill, as we have historically done, which included many provisions I fought for to support North Dakota, like reforms to the ARC-county program, support for young and beginning farmers, and a strong crop insurance program.

“I’ll continue to get input from North Dakota producers as we get to work on the conference committee to make sure the farm bill addresses the needs of our state. With commodity prices falling as the administration’s trade war is escalating, we can’t waste any time or get bogged down with divisive and partisan provisions – the farm bill is too important to our farmers and our rural economy.”