I had to hunt around to confirm it but, as I expected and predicted, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) leap-frogged more senior members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to become the chair. I think it is significant anytime that a woman takes over a chair of a committee in Congress. It’s true that Stabenow is replacing Blanche Lincoln, but Lincoln only served as chair for a few months.

I’m a novice about agriculture policy. But I did know that Michigan has a lot of farms. I went to college there.

Remarks of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Chairwoman, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
To the Michigan Agri-Business Association
January 11, 2011

I’m so happy to be with you here today, in my new role as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, but also because all of you are so important to Michigan’s economic future.

People in other parts of the country think it’s odd that the Senator from Michigan would end up as Chair of the Agriculture Committee. When they think of Michigan, they think of cars, and that’s it. What they don’t know is that, in our state, one out of every four people has their job thanks to Michigan agriculture. And it’s not just being a grower or producer, it’s companies like yours that provide services to farmers, in crop protection, crop fertility, grain handlers, farm credit, equipment manufacturing – the list goes on.

We belong to a local CSA and buy almost all our fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs through them. Grocery store produce sucks. It’s awful and tasteless. Other than bananas I have no use for the produce section of our grocery stores. So, my real interest in agriculture is in seeing policies that encourage small organic farmers and real fresh, quality produce. I want that stuff available to everyone, including in our cities. Urban farming is also something worth supporting. But, on this topic, I’m a student.

Based on Stabenow’s comments, I learned that Pat Roberts (R-KS) will replace Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) as the Ranking Member. Stabenow will craft a Farm Bill with Sen. Roberts and the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Frank Lucas (R-OK).

So…educate me. What are the big contentious issues we should care about in this year’s Farm Bill?

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