Roberts takes over Senate committee, making history
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2015 - Pat Roberts officially became chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday, making him the first lawmaker to chair both that panel and its House counterpart.
The Kansas Republican signaled that he will join Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe in attacking EPA regulations while also working on reauthorizing child nutrition programs and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In a statement, Roberts said the committee would provide “much needed oversight of our farm programs, school meals, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Roberts' targets will include the EPA's proposed rule defining the “waters of the United States” regulated by the Clean Water Act.
“I will fight to ensure farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to advance American agriculture, Roberts said. “I will fight barriers to trade opportunities and regulations that threaten our producers' competitiveness. And I will continue my work to maintain the security of our food supply and ensure science-based regulations govern our food and agriculture sectors."
Roberts was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee from 1995 to 1997 and led the drafting of the 1996 farm bill, best known as known as “Freedom to Farm,” which dismantled a longstanding system of price-based commodity subsidies and replaced them with fixed annual payments. Those payments survived until they were abolished in the 2014 farm bill.
While Roberts has continued to defend the changes that the 1996 law made he has said he won't reopen the 2014 bill.