Pat Roberts.
Pat Roberts.

With the swearing in of the 114th Congress last week, Senate Republicans appointed Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas as the next chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry. Outgoing Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan will become ranking member. The American Soybean Association (ASA), which has worked extensively with both lawmakers, signaled its praise of Roberts, and its optimism for the agricultural policy landscape in the coming Congress.

"We are thankful for a wonderful working relationship with Chairman Roberts, and we're excited for what's to come on his watch," said ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan. "Chairman Roberts has built a deep and fluent knowledge of agricultural policy, specifically the crop insurance and disaster assistance programs that are so vital to the success of soybean farmers. What's more, Chairman Roberts has made each of his farm policy decisions based on the concept that farm programs should encourage farmers to grow what the market demands. His approach is one that doesn't distort the marketplace and enables farmers to have the flexibility and confidence they need to be successful. At his core, he understands the intricacies of our industry, and we look forward to a great partnership with him."

ASA also expressed its gratitude to Ranking Member Stabenow for her leadership of the committee for the past four years. Sens. Stabenow and Roberts led the Agriculture Committee as chair and ranking member, respectively, for the majority of Stabenow's time as chairwoman, and together laid the majority of the framework for the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We can't overstate the impact that Ranking Member Stabenow's leadership has had on the success of American soybean farmers," said Cowan. "As a direct result of her determination, resolve and bipartisan leadership, we have a set of enacted laws--not just good ideas on a drawing board--that help us stay competitive and successful every day. We owe her our most sincere thanks and look forward to continuing our relationship with her as ranking member."

Roberts becomes the first lawmaker to serve as chairman of the agriculture committees in both the House and the Senate, and both he and Stabenow are past recipients of ASA's Soy Champion Award.