Six Democratic senators announced legislation on Monday to end discrimination at USDA and to expand Black-owned farmland by up to 32 million acres through land grants over 10 years. Sponsors include five members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which would handle the bill. “The Justice for …
New Jersey's Cory Booker, sponsor of bills to place a moratorium on large livestock farms and to expand Black ownership of farmland, is among five newcomers to the Senate Agriculture Committee, said panel leaders. The new members also include Republicans Roger Marshall and Tommy Tuberville, both of whom challenged President Biden's election on the same day a mob attacked the Capitol.
The incoming chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said she will pursue "voluntary, producer-led" solutions, such as carbon markets, for agriculture's contribution to fighting climate change, with the USDA providing expert advice to producers. Sen. Debbie Stabenow also said the USDA could need additional funding to pay for climate change programs.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Feb. 2 for Tom Vilsack, President Biden's nominee for agriculture secretary, said the panel's Democratic and Republican leaders on Wednesday.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who last year sponsored legislation to encourage farmer participation in carbon markets, is expected to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee for the second time in a decade now that the Democrats will control the Senate. Stabenow's return to power was aided by the defeat of a fellow committee member, appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, in a runoff election on Tuesday.
The invasion of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob was an assault on U.S. democracy, said farm state lawmakers on Wednesday. Rioters interrupted the certification of Joe Biden's election as president over President Trump, who told protesters that he would never concede defeat. Biden and former president George W. Bush called the invasion an insurrection.
Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts, retiring after 40 years in Congress, urged more civility and friendship among lawmakers in a farewell speech on Thursday that touched on his prominent role in passing the 1996 farm bill that, for the most part, ended federal control over what crops farmers grow.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday that he was quarantining himself at home while awaiting results of a test for Covid-19. The quarantine ended a 27-year streak, dating voting in every Senate roll call — a record 8,927 in all — since 1993.
Southerners could lead both of the Agriculture committees in Congress as a result of Tuesday's general election, which trimmed the majorities Republicans hold in the Senate and Democrats hold in the House. Rep. David Scott of Georgia was first in seniority to succeed chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota on the House Agriculture Committee, and Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas was in line to chair the Senate panel.