The Hill reports, “Lobbyists for powerful farming interests are happy Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D Ark.) took the gavel of the Senate Agriculture Committee.” Former chair, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, has shifted over to the top spot at the Senate Health, Education, labor and Pensions Committee. The Hill notes that the ranking Republican on the Ag Committee is also a Southerner, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Traditional, big farm groups are pleased with the switch. “We are very happy. She is a real believer in agriculture and is going to fight for it,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We couldn’t have handpicked a chairman better than this.” The Hill reports that lobbyists expect rice and cotton to get more attention under the new leadership (and, yes, the rice and cotton organizations sent out press releases praising Lincoln’s appointment). Tyson Foods grows quite a few chickens in Arkansas and has been one of Sen. Lincoln’s largest political donors.
“Lincoln also has been skeptical of climate change legislation and has said the Senate should focus on a renewable energy bill instead,” writes The Hill’s Kevin Bogardus. “Lincoln could put the brakes on a Senate version of the climate change bill.” “She had questions about the benefits of climate change instead of coming anywhere near close to the climate change bill coming out of the House,” one lobbyist said.