Mississippi senator will lead Agriculture Committee

Mississippi senator will lead Agriculture Committee – Up front

Whether it’s in this year’s lame-duck session or next year in a new Congress, Senator Thad Cochran (RMS) expects to take over leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Republican election victories have given that party control of the Senate. Iowa Democrat, Tom Harkin, was reelected to the Senate, but he will no longer head the ag committee.

A well-placed staffer says Cochran will emphasize the committee’s oversight role to make sure the new farm law is working for farmers. It’s unclear how strongly Cochran will prod USDA to start the new Conservation Security Program (CSP).

The CSP was the pride of former ag committee chair Harkin. Some Democratic staffers say they worry that Cochran won’t support it as much as Harkin has. The new farm law calls for CSP starting with 2003 crops.

The 2002 Farm Bill may be written, but the ag committee will have plenty to do. The Child Nutrition Act expires in 2003 and will need to be renewed. That law authorizes the school lunch program, which indirectly benefits the dairy industry and producers of meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Cochran hasn’t backed tougher limits on farm program payments. His voting record on a proposed ban on packer livestock feeding is mixed.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Meredith Corporation

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group