Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi became the top Republican in the Senate Agriculture Committee in the new Congress replacing Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.
Sen. Roberts earlier intended to keep his post as ranking member of the important committee and was prepared to challenge the Mississippi lawmaker, who outranks him in seniority, in a vote. After a short caucus among committee Republicans on Thursday afternoon, Roberts moved for a motion in support of Cochran.
The change may increase the likelihood for more provisions for southern crops under the new five-year Farm Bill the committee is creating.
In an interview with Politico, Roberts admitted that it would have been a “tall order” to have eventually succeeded despite having the backing of several Midwest Republicans on the panel. He also added that seniority is a historic part of the Senate and an unwritten rule.
In a statement. Cochran said that he will use his long experience serving on the committee, which he has been a member since 1979, to push for a quick approval of the new Farm Bill. He said that the new measure will meet the needs of American farmers, small businesses and others relying on the Committee’s nutrition programs.
Cochran strongly opposed the current version of the Farm bill which is seen to likely benefit corn and soybean farmers while leaving out rice and peanut farmers due to a lack of a target price program specifically tailored to their needs.