U.S. Senator John Boozman (R) has officially been named the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
During a Tuesday, Feb. 2 hearing for Thomas Vilsack’s nomination to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Boozman, still the incoming ranking member of the committee, shared leadership duties with the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). Former committee chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) left the Senate in 2020, being succeeded by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).
Stabenow is set to serve as the chairperson for the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
“Before I begin with my opening remarks though, I would like to take a minute to state for the record that this hearing is a bit different than we are used to attending in the past. The Senate has not passed—it’s on the verge—but it has not passed a resolution that allows for the committees of the Senate to organize,” Boozman said. Thus, the committee has no official Chairman at the moment, with the retirement of Senator Pat Roberts in 2020. You will see that neither of us, Senator Stabenow nor I, are sitting in the Chairman’s seat. We hold this hearing as equal partners today.”
Vilack, who previously served as the USDA Secretary, in President Barack Obama’s administration from 2009 to 2017, was quickly supported by the committee.
Boozman’s elevation to ranking member came after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) struck power-sharing agreement on Wednesday, Feb. 3. Under the agreement, Democrats will be able to take control of the U.S. Senate committees after narrowly taking control of the chamber with a split number of senators.
According to Boozman, he plans to work in concert with Stabenow to address multiple committee issues, including growing the farm economy, modernizing nutrition programs and expanding opportunities in rural America.
“The Senate Agriculture Committee has a well-deserved reputation as being among the most bipartisan on Capitol Hill. It is a place where committee members actually sit down around a table, hash out our differences and create policy that is good for American agriculture. I am confident that trend will continue as Chairwoman Stabenow and I work together to address the many challenges our agricultural producers and rural America face,” Boozman said in a statement.