The Kansas agriculture community was dealt a second blow this week with the news that Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran would be taking over as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Cochran has more seniority in the U.S. Senate than Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who previously served as ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee.
This comes on the heals of Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s removal from the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. His replacement will not be a member of the Kansas delegation.
Roberts could have fought his removal from committee leadership but instead chose to graceful step aside, acknowledging the change and taking on leadership opportunities on other committees. (Read more about Robert’s new leadership positions at http://hutchnews.com/Todaystop/roberts-ag-A1)
In a period when politicians behave more like school children then leaders, it’s refreshing to see a lawmaker not only gracefully step aside, but continue to work across the aisle to pass legislation and do what he can to represent his constituents. Roberts could have thrown a fit, objected to the change or publicly complain about Cochran’s new leadership role. He, instead, took the high road and found a way to make lemonade from the lemons he was dealt.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Senator Roberts. Earlier this year, his agriculture staff made a stop at our farm as part of a state-wide tour of the agriculture industry. They took the time to ask my husband and I what we wanted and needed to see in the 2012 farm bill and get our opinion on crop insurance, direct payments and other hot-topic items. It was refreshing and an opportunity I will never forget. He also took the opportunity to show off his great state by hosting a farm bill hearing in Wichita earlier this spring.
Roberts has always been a great advocate for Kansas agriculture and we hope to continue seeing him represent our needs as the debate of the 2012 farm bill continues. Both the Senate and House agriculture committees now have more representation from states with speciality crops and farmers that have long depended on direct payments. Kansas and other Midwest states will now have to fight even harder to retain current crop insurance programs, which have become vital to most farming operations. It will be a long fight but I know Kansas farmers, and lawmakers, are up the challenge.