The new year is bringing new blood to the Senate Agriculture Committee as it welcomes Nebraska’s Deb Fischer (pictured above), a Republican, and Minnesota’s Tina Smith, a Democrat.

The senators are joining just as the committee is preparing to ramp up efforts to bring home a massive new five-year farm bill, so there will be plenty of work and not much time for acclimation.

Fischer says she’s ready to hit the ground running after 40 years of working with farm and rural development groups across the Corn Husker state.

“This coming year is going to be critical as the 2014 farm bill expires and the committee works to write the next farm bill, Fisher said in a statement. “Throughout this process, I’m going to continue traveling Nebraska, as I’ve done for the past five years, and listen to thoughts, suggestions, and concerns from our state’s many ag producers. At this important juncture, my priorities will be supporting an affordable and viable farm safety net, safeguarding crop insurance, and expanding trade opportunities for Nebraska producers and their families.”

 

Fischer is being welcomed with high praise from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts.

“Given her firsthand experience in the agriculture industry, Senator Fischer will be a welcome addition to the Committee, just in time to represent Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers in farm bill negotiations,” Roberts said.

For Smith, the former Minnesota lieutenant governor who was chosen to fill the empty seat left by Al Franken, the spot on the Ag Committee is exactly what she asked for. Before committee assignments were handed out, she told the  Star Tribune newspaper in an interview that she was hoping to get the assignment in order to have a say in the next farm bill.

 “I’m hopeful and optimistic that we can work together, but I’m not naive about the big differences that divide us,” Smith told the newspaper.