Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon is being appointed to serve on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, but for the first time in nearly 50 years, no Nebraskan will sit on the Senate’s Ag Committee.
Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen says it’s worrisome.
“We’ve had cases where we’ve had two members on the Senate Ag Committee at the same time, Senator Johanns and Senator Nelson,” Hansen says.
Senator Ben Sasse is leaving the ag panel to serve on the Armed Services and Judiciary committees, while keeping his seat on the Banking Committee.
Hansen says the Senate Ag Committee seat was an important one for Nebraska, though Bacon’s committee assignment assures Nebraska will still have a voice on federal farm policy.
“If you’re on the committee, you’re in the middle of all of the ideas and amendments and the inside horse trading that has to go on in order to put together a farm bill,” Hansen says. “If you’re not on the committee, you’re on the outside. You can be interested in it. You can follow it, but you’re not in the middle of the mix.”
Hansen says the timing of Sasse leaving the Senate Ag Committee is not good. With a cruicial new farm bill to be written soon, he says that will have a large impact on Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.
“We’re facing a major financial crisis in rural America,” Hansen says. “The current income safety net was not built for these kinds of commodity prices. That’s pretty clear to everyone and we’ve got all of these different competing pressures at the national level.”
Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas promises quick action on the farm bill to come after the Senate acts on the president-elect’s cabinet nominees.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton